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Animal transplants into humans given go ahead

Discussion in 'New Zealand' started by Ellen, Dec 13, 2005.

  1. Ellen

    Ellen Senior Member

    Oct 22, 2005

    Animal transplants into humans given go ahead

    13.12.05 5.30pm
    By Kent Atkinson

    Using pig and other animal parts for human transplants moved a step closer today after the Government's biotech ethics advisor gave the green light.

    The Bioethics Council opened the way for transplants of animal tissue into humans to be resumed once the Government is satisfied with the disease risk and other medical issues involved.

    But it wants patients receiving animal parts to be registered, to declare their status at the border, and for any subsequent medical treatment to be recorded.

    Six New Zealanders would already qualify for such registration -- they were injected with pig islet cells in 1996 as part of a clinical trial of treatment for diabetes.

    In recent years the Government has taken steps to stop further such trials in New Zealand and the Cook Islands. This year, it extended to December 31 2006 a law which requires the Health Minister to specifically approve the use of organs, tissues or cells from animals - xenotransplantation - under strict criteria.

    A report released today by the Bioethics Council means that, if medical requirements can be met, acute shortages of donated human organs may be partly met by transplants of genetically engineered animal organs, or the use of animal tissues in other therapies.

    Xenotransplantation is regarded by some researchers as the easiest solution to severe shortages of donated human tissues.

    "It could make a significant contribution to the treatment of conditions such as heart disease and kidney failure," the council said. "With the number of human tissue, cellular and organ donors falling well short of demand, xenotransplantation presents a strong possible alternative.

    "The ageing New Zealand population is going to increase demand."

    Pigs are a likely source of transplant organs because they are about the same size as humans and have a similar physiology. Some overseas scientists are working to produce genetically engineered pigs whose tissues would not provoke an immune response in humans.

    But the head of the council's xenotransplantation working group, Martin Wilkinson, said many people expressed concern about safety and wanted a "case by case" approach to be taken.

    The report also raised the issue of xenotourism -- where people wanting transplants of animal tissue travel to a country where such operations are legal -- and whether New Zealanders should be prevented from receiving xenografts in other countries.

    "The council recommends that a national register of all New Zealanders and visitors who have received xenografts be established to protect public safety," Mr Wilkinson said in a statement.

    - NZPA
  2. Momof4gr8kids

    Momof4gr8kids Approved members

    Sep 3, 2006
    Why are they using animal instead of human? Canada had it's first live donnor this year, I haven't read anything recent, but last time I checked it went well. Wouldn't that be a better option?
  3. Kristen

    Kristen Approved members

    Jun 12, 2007
    I do not think that there are enough people that would volenteer to be Diabetic though...

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