CRT

Campaign for
Responsible
Transplantation    PO Box 2751, New York NY 10163

by Alix Fano


It is time to escalate our campaign to stop animal-to-human organ transplants.

Over the last several years the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted medical centers special permission to conduct experimental trials with genetically-engineered animal tissues and organs.   In 1995, Jeff Getty received a baboon bone marrow transplant in a failed attempt to eradicate his HIV infection.  On January 22, 1998, the journal Nature reported that Leonard Bailey, the transplant surgeon from Loma Linda University, who transplanted a baboon heart into Baby Fae in 1984, leading to the infant's death, intends to apply to the FDA to transplant hearts from the Center's baboon colony  into children.  Bailey said he didn't want "speculations about the risks to public health" to stand in his way.

The number of experiments with pig tissues and organs is also increasing.  James Schumacher of Neurological Associates in Sarasota, Florida has been injecting fetal pig cells into the vrains of Parkinson's patients in the hope of restoring neural function despite his admission that "there's a lot to learn" about the risk of transferring pig viruses to humans.  Last October, doctors performed a "xenoperfusion" using five transgenic pig livers to filter the blood of a 22-year-old until a human live could be found.

On April 12, 1998, the London
Sunday Times reported that Jacob Lavee, an Israeli surgeon, was planning to work with Imutran to perform the first pig-to-human heart transplant.  Imutran, a subsidiary of Novartis, the biggest corporate xenotransplantation investor and breeder of transgenic pigs, issued a press release on April 12th denying the report but mentioning a major announcement to be made on May 28th.

Though biotechnology companies are eager to cash in on the hope of xenotransplantation, there is mounting evidence that we should not be transplanting animal organs and tissues into humans.

In April 1998, the journals
Nature Medicine and New Scientist reported that a common primate virus - simian foamy virus - infected four animal handlers exposed to baboons and green monkeys, and had jumped the species barrier with "disturbing ease".  There is concern that the virus might mutate, become more virulent, and spread between people.  Virologist Jonathan Allan believes that the simian foamy viruses represent "the greatest immediate threat to humans among the known simian retroviruses".

Ann Tibell, a researcher at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, has been tracking ten patients who received fetal pig cell transplants, who underwent perfusion using pig liver "bridges" while awaiting a human liver, and who received pig skin transplants for serious burns.  Tibell found antibodies reactive to swine influenza in all ten patients, porcine parcovirus in five, and five other pig viruses.

In a February 1998
Nature Medicine article, several physicians advocated a moratorium on all types of xenotransplantation procedures, including xenoperfusions, due to the risk of transferring viruses from pigs to humans.  But the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control have denied such requests.

The Campaign for Responsible Transplants has launched a petition drive to collect 100,000 signatures against xenotransplantation by the end of this summer.  We plan to present those signatures to Donna Shalala, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the FDA which is regulating xenotransplantation procedures.

Individuals and organizations can help by collecting signatures on the petition, available from CRT  PO Box 2751  New York, NY 10163.  Organizations can also participate as signatories to the campaign.

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May 8, 1998                                                                                 CRT petitions HHS  Dec 10, 1998                                                  previous CRT release,March 31             home                       


CRT CAMPAIGN RESPONDS TO ESCALATION IN
ANIMAL-TO-HUMAN TRANSPLANT SURGERIES
Over the last several years the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted medical centers special permission to conduct experimental trials with genetically engineered animal tissues and organs. In 1995, Jeff Getty received a baboon bone marrow transplant in a failed attempt to eradicate his HIV infection. On January 22, 1998, the journal Nature reported that Leonard Bailey, the transplant surgeon from Loma Linda University who transplanted a baboon heart into Baby Fae in 1984, leading to the infant's death, intends to apply to the FDA to transplant hearts from the institution's baboon colony into children.  Bailey said he didn't want "speculations about the risks to public health" to stand in his way.

The number of experiments with pig tissues and organs is also increasing.  James Schumacher of Neurological Associates in Sarasota, Florida has been injecting fetal pig cells into the brains of Parkinson's patients in the hope of restoring neural function, despite his admission that "there's a lot to learn" about the risk of transferring pig viruses to humans.  Last October, doctors performed a "xenoperfusion," using five transgenic pig livers to filter the blood of a 22-year-old until a human liver could be found.

On April 12, 1998, the London
Sunday Times reported that Jacob Lavee, an Israeli surgeon, was planning to work with Imutran to perform the first pig-to-human heart transplant.  Imutran, a subsidiary of Novartis, the biggest corporate xenotransplantation investor, and breeder of transgenic pigs, issued a press release on April 12th denying the report.  But the company plans to make a major announcement on May 28th, the nature of which is not yet known.

Though biotechnology companies are eager to cash in on the hope of xenotransplantation, there is mounting evidence that we should not be transplanting animal organs and tissues into humans.

In April 1998, the journals
Nature Medicine and New Scientist reported that a common primate virus - simian foamy virus - infected four animal handlers exposed to baboons and green monkeys, and had jumped the species barrier with "disturbing ease".  There is concern that the virus might mutate, become more virulent, and spread between people.  Virologist Jonathan Allan believes that the simian foamy viruses represent "the greatest immediate threat to humans among the known simian retroviruses".

Ann Tibell, a researcher at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, has been tracking ten patients who received fetal pig cell transplants, who underwent perfusion using pig liver "bridges" while awaiting a human liver, and who received pig skin transplants for serious burns.  Tibell found antibodies reactive to swine influenza in all ten patients, porcine parcovirus in five, and five other pig viruses.

In a February 1998
Nature Medicine article, several physicians advocated a moratorium on all types of xenotransplantation procedures, including xenoperfusions, due to the risk of transferring viruses from pigs to humans.  But the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control have denied such requests.

CRT has launched a petition drive to collect 100,000 signatures against xenotransplantation by the end of this summer.  We plan to present those signatures to Donna Shalala, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human  Services (HHS).  HHS oversees the FDA which is regulating xenotransplantation procedures.

Organizations can sign on as participants.  Individuals as well as organizations  can assist this effort by collecting signatures on petition forms available from CRT at PO Box 2751, New York NY 10163.

(The blanks also appear in Summer 1998 issue of CivAb and can be copied.)

CRT files petition with HHS against xenotransplants

CRT press release March 31, 1998                         Civitas Home Page

Medical Research Modernization Committee release Feb. 25, 1998

Doctors and Lawyers for Responsible Medicine release Jan, 1998

Back to
CivAb Summer 1998              CivAb index