Thursday, November 6, 2008

Animal organs for human transplants

The Times of London reports on hopes of
Pig organs ‘available to patients in a decade’

If the formidable immunilogical barriers to such xenotransplants can be overcome, it would be a welcome development that could overcome the present dire shortage of transplantable organs. I'd be happy to see kidney exchange replaced by even better alternatives.

Pig kidneys for transplantation would presumably be sold without becoming a repugnant transaction of the kind that selling human kidneys is widely seen to be. However the breeding of transgenic pigs involves some of the same perception of repugnance:

"Professor Winston said that “organs that might be transplantable” could be ready “within two to three years” and on the basis that research went smoothly they would be fully licensed and tested in as little as ten years. He expected the first “proof of principle” pigs to be bred next year.
Two months ago he hit out at the “red tape” blocking the project’s progress in Britain. Under UK and EU rules, his team has been banned from mating and producing offspring from the transgenic pigs. Research in developing transgenic pigs is now likely to move to the US where the regulatory system is more relaxed. "

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