Prof defends pig-human organs
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Growing human organs in pigs is ethically no worse than eating bacon, a leading geneticist has claimed.
Professor Sir John Burn of Newcastle University backed US scientists who have created hybrid pig-human embryos and said the project was a vital way of tackling the shortage of transplant organs.
But opponents reacted with fury at news of the project yesterday, describing it as ‘gruesome’ and an assault on the integrity of humanity itself.
Scientists at the University of California, Davis, have combined human stem cells with pig DNA, with the aim of creating a human pancreas inside a pig.
Strict rules mean that no birth of a hybrid animal can be allowed, and any pregnancy must be terminated after 28 days. But eventually they hope to allow the birth of ‘chimera’ pigs, which can then be kept on huge farms until their organs are needed for a human patient.
Sir John said: ‘The idea that we actually produce tissues that are safe and effective from domestic animals clearly opens up a new area for treating patients. It is important work.’
However, he did concede on Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I think all of us recoil slightly at the first thought of this.’
But he added: ‘Is it reasonable to use mammals as a source of tissue? Of course we use it as a source of our breakfast bacon and I think that is a more questionable behaviour than using animals for this purpose.’
Meanwhile Dr Katy Taylor, of Cruelty Free International, said: ‘Reports of this gruesome experiment reads like something out of the dystopian science fiction novel Never Let Me Go.’ In the book by Kazuo Ishiguro, which was made into a movie in 2010, children are cloned so that their organs can be used for transplants. – Daily Mail