Cloning pigs and drug discovery among 'hot' topics

MIAMI, Aug. 28 New developments in the areas of cloning and animal-to-human transplantation, and in drug discovery and transplant tolerance the acceptance of the graft without the need for drugs will have the most impact on transplant availability and outcomes, said researchers today who spoke at the International Congress of The Transplantation Society in a session aptly called "What's New and Hot in Transplantation."

The congress, being held at the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa in Hollywood, Fla., began on Sunday and concludes this Friday.

Xenotransplantation, or cross-species transplantation, is viewed as one answer to the critical shortage of human organs for transplantation. Because the immune system barriers are so great between humans and animals, the field has been dominated by small and incremental developments. But last week's news of the world's first cloned double "knockout" pigs represents a major boost to the field.

"This could well prove the biggest advance in xenotransplantation research to date," remarked Dr. David K.C. Cooper, associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and head, Xenotransplantation Group, Transplantation Biology Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital. "It is likely, however, that this will not provide the entire answer, and that further gene 'knockout' procedures may be necessary. Nevertheless, a big step forward at this stage would be greatly encouraging to researchers, and would indicate that the organ shortage will be resolved by the use of pig organs within the foreseeable future."

Somatic nuclear transfer, or cloning, of pigs offers "the most radical and promising strategy" for creating pigs that lack the enzyme responsible for hyper-acute rejection, reported Dr. Alan Colman, one of the creators of Dolly, the first animal cloned from an adult cell, at today's congress. Formerly with PPL Therapeutics, PLC, where the work with the pigs was performed, Dr. Colman is now

Contact: Lisa Rossi
Transplantation Society

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