Pig virus raises xenotransplant alarms.As interest in using animals as a source of donor organs rises, some researchers warn that this strategy, known as xenotransplantation xen·o·trans·plan·ta·tion
The surgical transfer of cells, tissues, or especially whole organs from one species to another.
xenotransplantation , may introduce dangerous new viruses into the human population (SN: 11/4/95, p. 298). Those fears received some support in the March Nature Medicine, where Robin A. Weiss of the Institute of Cancer Research in London and his colleagues report the first discovery of a pig retrovirus retrovirus, type of RNA virus that, unlike other RNA viruses, reproduces by transcribing itself into DNA. An enzyme called reverse transcriptase allows a retrovirus's RNA to act as the template for this RNA-to-DNA transcription. that can infect human cells.
Among viruses, retroviruses are particularly troublesome. Since they normally infect cells by integrating their genes into a host genome, these viruses can trigger cancer-causing mutations. Moreover, this integration means that, unlike other pig viruses t hat infect people, porcine retroviruses may be difficult to eliminate from herds intended for xenotransplantation.
"Public health officials should resist the transplant community's clamor for animal organs in light of this new data," cautions virologist virologist
microbiologist specializing in virology. Jon Allan of the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR) is a large private research institute located in San Antonio Texas.
With 400 staff and a 397 acre campus, SFBR is "one of the world's leading independent biomedical research institutions. in San Antonio, Texas “San Antonio” redirects here. For other uses, see San Antonio (disambiguation).
San Antonio is the second most populous city in Texas, the third most populous metropolitan area in Texas, and is the seventh most populous city in the United States. As of the 2006 U.S. , in a commentary accompanying th e report.