LCT’s New Zealand pigs free of viruses

07-05-2009 | |

Living Cell Technologies (LCT) reports that its pig cell product, Diabecell® presently in Phase I/IIa clinical trial for the treatment of insulin dependent diabetes, is free of pig viruses, bacteria and parasites.

In the wake of recent reports of a new strain of influenza virus in Mexico and the United States, LCT referred to Professor Roger Morris, emeritus professor of New Zealand’s Massey University, and an international expert on pig infections, who said that swine influenza was not endemic in New Zealand.

Living Cell Technologies Limited says the appearance of pig-avian-human viruses is a consequence of human co-existence with pigs and birds in nature. Viral infections from pigs to humans have never arisen from pig tissue implanted into humans. New Zealand’s geographical isolation, historical biosecurity and strict animal quarantine practice have kept the country free from a number of pig pathogens including swine influenza. LCT’s pig herd is derived from the Sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands and bred in bird-proof pathogen free facilities.

LCT Medical Director, Professor Bob Elliott said, “As swine influenza infection has not been endemic in New Zealand, there has been no opportunity for pig, bird and human viruses to recombine as has occurred naturally elsewhere. LCT’s pig cell treatment uses cells from pigs bred from our own facilities in New Zealand. The complete isolation of our herd in a containment facility means that even if swine influenza did happen in other New Zealand pigs it is very unlikely to occur in this herd.

Those who have received pig cell implants without immunosuppressive drugs have a normal immune system and are not at any additional risk and should follow the same travel precautions and advice that public health authorities have for healthy citizens”.