Hitch in pig organ trials

January 24, 1997

THE Cambridge-based company at the centre of plans to transplant genetically modified pig organs to humans is in talks with academic departments in the United States and plans to spread its work abroad.

Last week the British Government announced plans to set up the UK Xenotransplantation Interim Regulatory Authority to oversee developments in the field. But David White, lecturer at Cambridge University's department of surgery and co-founder of Imutran, the company hoping to carry out the first transplants, says that the firm plans to extend work to the US, where recommended guidelines for xenotransplantation have already been published by the US Public Health Service.

Last week the British Government accepted the findings of the Kennedy committee which concluded that using pig organs for transplantation was acceptable, but that more information was required before clinical trials were justified.

Concern now surrounds the time needed to establish the new regulatory authority. "We have facilities in the UK to start clinical trials but no authority to apply to. The US has the regulations in place. We hope that the government committee will be set up in the not too distant future and the requirements of that committee will be reasonable and achievable," said Dr White.

He said that it was not the company's intention or desire to take the work to another country simply to avoid regulations.

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