“KEEP death off the road”, a Ministry of Transport slogan once enjoined the people of Britain. And it worked. Both driving and being a pedestrian have become far safer over the past few decades in Britain and many other countries. One consequence, though, is a shortage of human organs available for transplant. Waiting lists for such transplants have thus grown. In July, more than 117,000 people were awaiting suitable donors in the United States alone. An alternative source of supply is needed. And a paper published in Science this week, by Luhan Yang and her colleagues at eGenesis, an American biotechnology company, may help pave the way to providing it.
Dr Yang and her team are working on pigs. The idea of using pig organs as substitutes for human ones has been around for a while. Pigs are well studied and easy to breed. They are also about the same size as people, meaning that their internal bits and pieces are,…Continue reading