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Pig Organs

Volume 301: debated on Thursday 27 November 1997

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the dangers posed by viruses in pig organs identified for possible use in pig-to-human transplants. [17778]

"Animal Tissue into Humans", the Report of the Advisory Group on the Ethics of Xenotransplantation, published in January 1997, concluded that there was insufficient knowledge of the risks associated with the transmission of infectious diseases, including viruses, for clinical trials involving humans to be ethically acceptable. Research into these and other relevant issues is continuing.The Government is advised by the United Kingdom Xenotransplantation Interim Regulatory Authority (UKXIRA) on these issues and on the acceptability of any application to undertake trials in xenotransplantation involving humans. Any application will be expected to include a full assessment of the microbiological risk of any proposed procedure. Within the United Kingdom we will allow clinical trials involving humans to take place only if and when we are satisfied that the risks associated with such procedures are acceptable. The UKXIRA will take the latest evidence available into account in its advice. The Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens is also working with the UKXIRA on microbiological issues involved in xenotransplantation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions he has had with Imutran concerning the transplantation of organs from pigs to humans; and if he will make a statement. [17779]

The United Kingdom biotechnology industry is at the forefront of international research and development into xenotransplantation. The views of industry are important to the development of a regulatory structure and have been formally sought through consultation exercises. The United Kingdom Xenotransplantation Interim Regulatory Authority, established to advise on and oversee developments in xenotransplantation, is in contact with Imutran, and other companies in the field, and has visited some of Imutran's animal facilities. My noble Friend the Minister of State, Baroness Jay of Paddington, at Imutran's invitation, recently visited its facilities during which she was advised of the developments in its work.