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31 January 1999 Issue

Xenotransplantation

STRASBOURG, 1/29/99 - European Parliamentarians today called for a
moratorium on xenotransplantation until this new technology - which uses
animal parts for human transplants - is evaluated and guidelines established
and agreed.

Fears of a threat to public health promoted the Council of Europe's
Parliamentary Assembly to call for the world-wide ban. " The risks involved in allowing
xenotransplantation in clinics is currently too high to be acceptable. Much more
research is needed before we will have satisfactorily answered all the
unanswered questions," said Jean-Francois Mattei (France, LDR), who
presented the report in the absence of its author Gian Reto Plattner
(Switzerland, Soc.).

Mr. Mattei said that although transplant technology could be of benefit, and
tissue from pigs was already used in heart valve operations, careful study was
necessary.

A major obstacle to the current use of human tissues for transplants was the
lack of donors, he said. In the USA alone some 50,000 patients were awaiting
transplants from the less than 5000 annual donors and around 3000 people
die a year because no donor is available. Using animal tissue would up the
availability of organs, and gene therapy could also help circumvent the
problems of donor rejection.

But the serious risk of disease transfer had to be weighed against the potential
benefits said Mr. Mattei. Virulent viral diseases such as Ebola and Marburg
were known to transmit from monkeys to humans and recent evidence has
suggested that diseases such as Creuzfeldt Jakob originated in animal
spongiform encephalopathy's such as mad cow disease.

The Assembly also asked the Council of Europe Public Health and Bioethics
Committees to work hand in hand with the World Health Organization on a
strategy which balances ethical, medical, scientific, legal, social and public
health issues before human clinical trials continue.

Source: Council of Europe
Press Contact for Council of Europe
Cathie Burton or Christiane Dennemeyer
Council of Europe Press Service
Tel. +33 3 88 41 28 93 or +33 3 88 41 25 63
Fax. +33 3 88 41 27 89
E-mail: PressUnit@coe.fr 

World Animal Net notes:

1. The Council of Europe was founded in 1949. It is considered to be the
bastion of human rights in Europe. 40 European countries are members.

2. The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) and Compassion
in World Farming (CIWF) have prepared an excellent joint report on
xenotransplantation - 'animal organs in humans - uncalculated risks and
unanswered questions'.

For further details, please contact:

BUAV
16A Crane Grove
London N7 8LB UK
Tel: + 44 171 700 4888
Fax: + 44 171 700 0252
e-mail: yvonne.taylor@buav.org 

source: worldanimalnet@yahoo.com

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