PIGS TO SAVE OUR BACON; Cloned Animals Will Grow Organs for Humans the 5 Little Pigs Whose Birth Could Put an End to Life or Death Wait for Organ Transplants

By Lines, Andy | The Mirror (London, England), March 15, 2000 | Go to article overview

PIGS TO SAVE OUR BACON; Cloned Animals Will Grow Organs for Humans the 5 Little Pigs Whose Birth Could Put an End to Life or Death Wait for Organ Transplants


Lines, Andy, The Mirror (London, England)


THE world's first cloned pigs were last night hailed as the breakthrough that could end the wait for organ transplants.

Five identical female piglets, produced by the same British team that cloned Dolly the sheep, were born in secret nine days ago and faced the cameras for the first time yesterday.

They represent the first stage in creating a strain of pigs whose organs would not be rejected by humans.

Millie, Christa, Alexis, Carrel and Dotcom were born in America after scientists from Edinburgh-based PPL Therapeutics implanted eggs into a sow.

Jubilant managing director Ron James said: "An end to the chronic worldwide organ shortage is now in sight." Many people die waiting for organs that can be used in transplants.

Mr James added: "All known technical hurdles have been overcome.

"It is now a case of combining the various strategies into one male and one female pig and breeding from these."

But reaction to the breakthrough was mixed with experts giving warnings on safety and moral grounds.

Until now, pig organs could be rejected by humans because of a particular pig gene.

But the cloned piglets have had this gene "knocked out".

Hearts, kidneys and livers from pigs could be tested on humans within four years.

Diabetics may also benefit from the transplant of insulin cells.

But British Medical Association spokeswoman Dr Vivienne Nathanson said serious issues of safety and ethics have been raised.There was huge public sympathy for people who died awaiting transplants, she said.

But there were also risks for the population at large if viruses were released unwittingly.

"It is a question of balancing the scepticism and the sympathy," Dr Nathanson said.

"If we cannot ameliorate the risk then society has to say 'Hold on, should we let this go ahead? …

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