Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pig Organ Transplantation Closer to Reality

Cloned Pigs Could Be Used for Human Transplants

By Kim Tong-hyung
Staff Reporter
The Korea Times

Scientists participating in a government-backed biotechnology project said they had produced genetically engineered pig clones with organs designed for human transplants.

The Rural Development Administration, which financed the project, said that Tuesday's announcement represents a step forward in the efforts to make xeno-transplantation, or the use of animal organs to replace human ones, a reality.

A research team led by Chung Nam University's Jin Dong-il and local bio-tech firm Mgen said that their cloned piglet, born on May 11, has been genetically altered to have the fas ligand (FasL) protein, which plays an important role in regulating the human immune system.

Government officials claimed that organs from FasL-expressing pigs could have a lesser risk of rejection when transplanted into humans.

Chin's cloned pig follows a similar achievement by the National Institution of Animal Science, which in April revealed the birth of a "GAL-knockout'' pig that has the enzyme alpha 1, 3-galactose, or "alpha gal,'' which when transplanted into humans triggers immune rejection, genetically removed. Read More

Think about how many lives will be saved when we finally have the ability to utilize the organs of pigs in humans. Thousands of people are on the transplant list waiting for a chance at a new life. The unfortunate part of the current system is that a tragedy has to occur for another family in order for those organs to become available. I’m sure that there will be some animal rights activists that would rather see their human counterparts die than utilize the pig but hopefully those of us that put more value on human life will be willing to stand up to them.

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