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Thousands of patients with failing hearts or other organs die before a suitable donor organ for transplantation can be located. Scientists have long suggested that the worldwide organ shortage could be alleviated by using animals such as pigs as organ sources for human transplantations, if a major obstacle—immunological incompatibility—could be overcome.
Now researchers from two biotechnology companies—PPL Therapeutics Plc (the Edinburgh-based company that helped create Dolly, the first cloned mammal) and Infigen, a DeForest, Wis–based firm—have taken a significant step toward overcoming that obstacle with the creation of transgenic cloned piglets. Each of the piglets has a marker gene (the PPL piglets have a jellyfish gene that encodes a fluorescent protein and the Infigen piglets have a neomycin-resistance gene) to demonstrate the feasibility of producing genetically identical animals from genetically altered cells.
Stephenson J. These Little Piggies . . .. JAMA. 2001;285(18):2319. doi:10.1001/jama.285.18.2319-JWM10004-4-1