An approach to the control of disease transmission in pig-to-human xenotransplantation.
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Abstract: Although several major immunologic hurdles need to be overcome, the pig is currently considered the most likely source animal of cells, tissues and organs for transplantation into humans. Concerns have been raised with regard to the potential for the transfer of infectious agents with the transplanted organ to the human recipient. This risk is perceived to be increased as it is likely that the patient will be iatrogenically immunocompromised and the organ-source pig may be genetically engineered in such a way to render its organs particularly susceptible to infection with human viruses. Furthermore, the risk may not be restricted to the recipient, but may have consequences for the health of others in the community. The identification of porcine endogenous retroviruses and of hitherto unknown viruses have given rise to the most concern. We document here the agents we believe should be excluded from the organ-source pigs. We discuss the likelihood of achieving this aim and outline the potential means by which it may best be achieved.