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Wednesday, 9 May, 2001, 14:11 GMT 15:11 UK
Australian researchers clone pig
Pig organs are the right size for human transplantation
Australia has produced its first pig clone. The animal, which is now five weeks old, is said to be healthy and growing normally.

Basically, what works in sheep doesn't work in pigs, so we had to start from scratch

John Smeaton, BresaGen Ltd
The piglet was made using new technology that could help prevent animal diseases and aid human organ transplants, the biotechnology company behind the development claimed.

BresaGen Ltd, working with St Vincent's Hospital in Melbourne, said it produced the clone from cells that had been frozen in liquid nitrogen for more than two years.

The world's first pig clones were announced in March last year by researchers working for the Scottish biotechnology firm PPL Therapeutics. Last month, the commercial offshoot of the Roslin Institute said it had also managed to create gene-altered, or transgenic, pig clones as well.

Modification of the animals' genetic make-up is vital if pig organs are to be used successfully in humans. Unaltered, animal livers, kidneys or hearts would be rejected by the human immune system.

Clone PA
The first pig clones were born last year
BresaGen said the technology it used to clone Australia's pig was different from that used to make Dolly the sheep, the first large animal to be copied from an adult cell.

"Basically, what works in sheep doesn't work in pigs, so we had to start from scratch," said chief executive John Smeaton.

The company said its pig cloning technology, like that of PPL's, was potentially life-saving, with thousands of people around the world dying each year while they waited for organ transplantation.

"It is anticipated that the new cloning technology will have a major impact in guarding against the outbreak of animal disease and in the area of xenotransplantation - the use of animal organs for transplantation into humans," the company said in a statement.

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11 Apr 01 | Sci/Tech
Pig cloning advance
14 Mar 00 | Sci/Tech
Scientists produce five pig clones
14 Mar 00 | Sci/Tech
From pig clone to human transplant
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