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US pigs to aid research into transplants

FOUR genetically engineered pigs from Harvard University in the United States are to be sent to a Chinese hospital in the southwestern Sichuan Province for use in pig-to-monkey organ transplant experiments, a doctor said yesterday.

The Sichuan Provincial People's Hospital and Harvard University signed an agreement on Wednesday and the four pigs should arrive in China within three to six months, Yang Hongji, director of the hospital's Clinical Organ Transplantation Center, said.

The two institutions have established a laboratory for xenotransplantation studies at the hospital, Yang said.

Xenotransplantation is a procedure in which tissue or organs are transferred from one species to another. Harvard University was a pioneer of such studies.

"We will carry out three clinical pig-to-monkey xenotransplantation experiments after we import the pigs," Yang said. These would involve the liver, pancreas and kidney.

He said the experiments would include studies such as how to cultivate livers and kidneys for human organ transplants.

There are also plans for research into the use of pig tissue in cosmetic surgery and treatment of injuries.


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