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Australian national health board issues 5-year bans on any xenotransplantation trials using humans.

Australia's national health advisory body has issued a 5-year ban on any clinical trials using animal cells and tissues to treat human disease, according to ABC Science Online.

The decision by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) follows a decision made by the same body earlier this year to impose a 5-year ban on trials into transplanting whole animal organs into humans.

The 2 bans involving humans and animal organs, tissues and cells effectively imposes a 5- year ban on 2 types of xenotransplantation - animal cellular therapies and animal external therapies.

The chair of the NHMRC council Professor John Stine emphasized the ban will not stop basic research into xenotransplantation. "It doesn't impede research into this area in test tubes and animal-to-animal transplants. It just puts a moratorium on human clinical trials," Shine told ABC Science Online.

The decision to implement the bans was based on 2 factors, Shine said - the potential for creating a new type of human virus from subjecting human cells to animal viruses, and the fact that there is little evidence at this time of the efficacy of xenotransplantation.

Shine left the door open to the NHMRC changing its ruling if new evidence showed there was a clear benefit in a particular new treatment developed or evidence that a virus was not going to be created.

However, he added that it is his belief human stem cell research will prove to be successful in overtaking the need for xenotransplantation.

Professor Bernie Tuch, of Sydney's Prince of Wales Hospital and the University of New South Wales disagreed with the decision and that stem cells may be better than pig cells at treating diabetes, for example.

"No one has yet demonstrated that anyone can come off insulin by transplanting pig cells. But no-one has shown that embryonic stem cells or adult stem cells will reverse diabetes either," Tuch told ABD Science Online. "That doesn't mean that people shouldn't carry out [xenotransplantation] research in a responsible and reasonable manner."
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Publication:Transplant News
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jan 15, 2005
Previous Article:CMS moving to expand Medicare coverage of cochlear implants.
Next Article:Effort begun in UK to establish a 100 million pound stem cell research fund.

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