Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pig cells in Humans

Just because we can, should we?

This is an interesting news article published today on a trial using pig cells to produce insulin in humans.

I imagine that the ethics committee in Russia must have had plenty to discuss when this proposal came across their desks, assuming the study underwent the same rigorous review procedure we would expect under international Good Clinical Practice guidelines. If it works, the potential benefit to diabetic patients would be enormous. However, I'm not sure how comfortable I am personally with living animal cells being transplanted into humans. I suppose in theory it is no different to taking in probiotic bacteria to boost our gut flora, another living non-human organism inside us.

I wish Living Cell the best of luck in developing this technology, and ensuring the research undergoes rigorous ethical and scientific review and debate throughout the entire clinical development process. It's never easy pushing the boundaries of medicine and public opinion.

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