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Pig-cloning could end chronic organ shortage

By Dick Ahlstrom, Science Editor

The prospect of organ transplants from pigs to humans is said to have moved a step closer with a new success in animal cloning.

The people who brought us Dolly the cloned sheep have been at it again and have broadened the range of mammals that can be replicated using new technology.

Five little pigs, Millie, Christa, Alexis, Carrel and Dotcom, were delivered on March 5th at a research centre at Blacksburg, Virginia. They would be too cute for words but for the fact that this latest variety of clone has a potentially important but ethically fraught future, as a source of replacement organs for humans.

"An end to the chronic organ shortage is now in sight," said Mr Ron James, managing director of PPL Therapeutics, the company that holds the rights for cloning technology developed at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh and which produced Dolly.

"It opens the door to making modified pigs whose organs and cells can be successfully transplanted into humans, the only near-solution to solving the worldwide organ shortage crisis," a PPL spokesman added.

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