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New Zealand: Pig tissue transplants approved

Following years of refusals, a controversial trial of transplanting humans with pig tissue has been given the go-ahead from the New Zealand government. New Zealand Health Minister David Cunliffe has permitted a pig-cell transplant clinical trial to test a potential new treatment for people with type 1 diabetes, the New Zealand Herald reports.

The trial effectively revives a previous trial which stopped in 1996 due to the concerns about the risk of transferring pig viruses, although no evidence has been found of this happening. Techniques for encapsulating the cells have advanced since 1996.

In the new trial, encapsulated cells taken from the cells of neonatal piglets of a specially reared pig herd will be transplanted into eight people with type 1 diabetes. The cells will be put in the abdomen. Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease whose cause is unknown. It usually starts in childhood and is not related to obesity. It affects around 15,000 New Zealanders.

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New Zealand Herald

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