---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2001 12:00:15 PDT
From: AFP / Ben Perry <Cemail@example.com>
Subject: British firm produces first transgenically-cloned piglets
LONDON, April 11 (AFP) - The British firm which helped produce
Dolly the sheep announced Wednesday it had brought into being the
world's first transgenically-cloned piglets -- a major step towards
creating animals whose organs can be safely transplanted into
PPL Therapeutics said the transgenic cloning of the five piglets
was one step further on from the company's announcement last year
that it had produced the world's first cloned pigs.
The achievement is a major step towards creating genetically
modified pigs whose organs and cells can be transplanted into
humans, a process known as xenotransplantation, the biotechnology
firm said in a statement.
By transgenically cloning the piglets it aims to produce animals
without the gene which causes their organs to be rejected by the
human body after transplantation.
"Xenotransplantation is the only near-term solution to solving
the worldwide organ shortage crisis," PPL added.
Clinical trials of the process could start in as little as four
to five years and analysts estimate the organs market could be worth
five billion dollars (5.7 billion euros, 3.5 billion pounds), the
It could be worth as much again in terms of cellular therapies,
such as transplantable cells that produce insulin for treatment of
diabetes, it said.
Last year, the Roslin Institute, who along with PPL achieved
fame in 1997 for producing Dolly, the first successful cloning of a
mammal from an adult cell, postponed experiments aimed at
transplanting pig organs for use in human bodies amid fears that
unknown diseases could jump the species barrier.
"The concern is mainly unknown viruses, that's the frightening
thing," Ian Wilmut, head of the Scottish research centre near
Edinburgh, said following the postponement.
"It's possible there could be viruses we don't know about that
could be released into the human population," he added.
He said that there was "a certain reduction in the optimism of
how practical it will be to take animals and use them in this way".
A spokesman for the Church of Scotland's Society, Religion and
Technology Project urged caution following PPL's breakthrough
"No one knows if all the rejection mechanisms can be overcome
sufficiently to make the medical case strong enough," said Dr Donald
"To do so requires the multiple genetic engineering of a large
animal which is uncharted scientific territory.
"We therefore caution against jumping to the conclusion that the
science will inevitably work well enough -- it may, it may not," he
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