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New Zealand approves pig-human tissue transplants for diabetics

Discussion in 'New Zealand' started by JoeC, Oct 21, 2008.

  1. JoeC

    JoeC Approved members

    Aug 16, 2006
    New Zealand approves pig-human tissue transplants for diabetics
    9 hours ago

    WELLINGTON (AFP) — New Zealand on Tuesday gave the green light for clinical trials involving the transplantation of pig cells into humans in a potential breakthrough treatment of diabetes.

    Health Minister David Cunliffe said the process, known as xenotransplantation, had huge potential for diabetes sufferers.

    "This is critical new technology that could well make New Zealand a world leader in both the treatment of diabetes and in the use of xenotransplantation," he said.

    Biotech entrepreneur Living Cell Technologies Ltd (LCT) wants to transfer cells from the pancreas of pigs to produce insulin in type-1 diabetes sufferers.

    Though the technology could produce significant benefits for patients, it is highly controversial given the potential for a pig virus to be transferred that could then became capable of spreading as an infection in people.

    "It remains clear to me that any such trial will always carry a very low residual risk, so the key issue has always been whether this risk is sufficiently small and can be successfully managed," Cunliffe said.

    "I am confident that the stringent conditions I have imposed on this trial represent best practice and meet our international obligations to the World Health Organisation."

    The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) warned in 2005 that a deadly virus transmission through this pathway could potentially kill millions of people.

    When the current application for a clinical trial in New Zealand was made, a Wellington think tank, the Sustainability Council, urged the minister to consult the public on the "community risk" in the event that transplanted pig tissues triggered an infectious disease in humans.

    It also questioned how transplant recipients could be stopped from donating blood or organs to other humans.

    But LCT's medical director, Professor Bob Elliott, who carried out the original research, and actually injected pig cells into people in 1996 and 1997, recently said further delays would have the same effect on the company as a rejection.

    "We can't wait around any longer really, we've got to move."

    LCT has said it can limit risks by using tissues from piglets in a breeding line said to have been isolated from other pigs for over 150 years on the Auckland Islands.

    According to Elliott, a group of Russians injected with New Zealand pig cells last year showed reductions in daily insulin requirements ranging from 23 percent to as much as 100 percent, and had good control of blood glucose levels in four out of five patients.

  2. DylansMum

    DylansMum Approved members

    May 12, 2007
    Yes, as I understand, its a world first, they are going to start looking for their first 8 patients to trial at Middlemore Hospital soon.

    Its amazing. I saw it on the news last night, of course you now have all the anti groups speaking up about pig diseases etc, but the pigs are from the isolated Auckland Islands and have all been tested.

    I have a friend who is anti anything animal, and she is horrified, but then do these people go through what our children and us as parents go through, I wonder if they would have a different outlook if they were in our shoes.
  3. My_Dana

    My_Dana Approved members

    Apr 25, 2006
    Great news!

    I hope it makes it to the US soon!
  4. JoeC

    JoeC Approved members

    Aug 16, 2006
    LCT is planning to conduct trials at Barbara-Davis Center in Denver, Colorado in 2009. Of course they have to submit an IND to the FDA and get approval. Hopefully, the approval process doesn't take as long as it did in New Zealand.
  5. Ivan's Mum

    Ivan's Mum Approved members

    Aug 29, 2006
    I'm laughing really because we're staunch vegetarians and my family are horrified that I would use an animal like this.

    They only need to scrape Ivan up off the floor once because he can't stand due to being so low and they might get it.

    Anyway, I need some new pig skin gloves and a matching bag so as long as the rest of them don't go to waste, I say go for it!
  6. kiwiliz

    kiwiliz Approved members

    Sep 25, 2008
    One part of the article not reprinted from www.stuff.co.nz

    "Key ministers were deluged with emails from around the world over the weekend in an apparently coordinated effort by advocates of the technology, in advance of yesterday's cabinet meeting."

    It just goes to show - every little helps!

    There must be other forums also actively advocating. :D

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