Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Korea's turn to sweat...

Local scientists have created a genetically modified pig whose organs can be used for transplanting into human patients.

The cloned piglet was born by a surrogate mother on April 3 and remains healthy at a lab at the National Institution of Animal Science in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province.
Ok...let's not just pick on China (as I did in the previous post). Let's pick on South Koreans...since they seem to be the most aggressive in the pursuit of cloning exercises for xenotransplantation.

Pigs are born with a retrovirus that is capable of infecting humans.

As interest in using animals as a source of donor organs rises, some researchers warn that this strategy, known as xenotransplantation, may introduce dangerous new viruses into the human population (SN: 11/4/95, p. 298). Those fears received some support in the March Nature Medicine, where Robin A. Weiss of the Institute of Cancer Research in London and his colleagues report the first discovery of a pig retrovirus that can infect human cells.
And, it's not just pigs, mind you.

In 1999, a 35-year-old American HIV patient received a baboon liver, but died just two months after the transplantation after contracting a virus that is known to only affect the animal.
I've always been a proponent of cautious advancement. Scientists and researchers, however, seem to be motivated these days by securing credit and being the first to do something without spending one hell of a lot of time determining the ramifications.

I am reminded of Jurassic Park (Movie).

Dr. Ian Malcolm: Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should.
Yeah...I know...I'm floating out conspiracy theory crap. I'm doing it on purpose, because up until this point the WHO (a political entity, by the way) has been mum. The more theories thrown out there...the sooner they are going to have to step up and actually make a substantive statement.