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August 28, 1996

British, American Reports on Xenotransplantation

JAMA. 1996;276(8):589-590. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540080013005

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TWO REPORTS on the current status of xenotransplantation and the circumstances under which it can safely proceed were presented last month in Washington, DC. One comes from the United States' Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the other from Great Britain's Nuffield Council on Bioethics. Each report was discussed by those who prepared it at a meeting held by the IOM.

Essentially, the message was the same: when using animals as a source of organs, tissues, or cells for transplantation to humans, proceed with care if you proceed at all; recognize clearly the risks involved; xenotransplantation requires appropriate safeguards that are not yet in place. The procedures are still experimental.

Central vs Local Control  The British report, Animal-to-Human Transplants: The Ethics of Xenotransplantation, is more cautious and calls for more centralized regulation than does the US report, Xenotransplantation: Science, Ethics, and Public Policy. The latter, while also calling for specific