Transplanting animal cells into human beings produces benefits today

Keeping with the Xenotransplantation theme, there have been a number of stories recently about real world applications
for transplanting animal cells into human beings as well as transplanting
genetically altered human cells into human beings.

  • In late May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new
    skin graft product called Apligraf intended to be used initially in
    the treatment of venous skin ulcers. Apligraf is composed of human skin
    cells combined with collagen cells taken from cattle. The human cells
    come from the foreskins of newly circumcised infants.

    Venous skin ulcers affect thousands
    of Americans each year and require multiple surgeries to correct. Apligraf
    will speed the healing and recovery time after surgery. The product
    is currently undergoing clinical trials to discern its effectiveness
    in treating burns, diabetic ulcers and eventually bed sores.

  • At the end of July, Imutran, one of the leading companies doing xenotransplantation
    work, announced it would begin using pig livers to act as dialysis machines
    for human beings.

    “What we are thinking of doing
    is using the liver as a temporary support, outside the body, as a sort
    of dialysis machine for patients in liver failure to allow the doctors
    to buy time until a human organ becomes available for transplantation,”
    Dr. Corrine Savill, Imutran’s CEO, told BBC radio.

    About 50,000 people in Europe alone
    are waiting for transplants, with that number growing at 15 percent
    a year according to a Reuters News Service report.

  • In May a 20-year-old college student had a historic operation after
    his heart was removed from his body and fixed using animal tissue.

    Guy Altmann, a Texas A&M student,
    had a malignant tumor the size of a lemon lodged in his mitral valve.
    During the six-hour operation, his heart was stopped, removed and the
    tumor cut away. The mitral valve was rebuilt using heart tissue from
    a cow.

    “I feel a lot better than
    when I cam in,” Altmann told the Associated Press.

  • And what about the fear expressed by animal rights activists that
    xenotransplantation could lead to some outbreak of a previously unknown
    disease? An August report in the New Scientist magazine suggests
    that there have been no signs of transmission of such diseases in patients
    who have received cells from pigs for pancreatic disorders and Parkinson’s

    “The findings, based on screening
    samples from patients exposed to pig tissue, provide the first compelling
    evidence that dormant pig viruses do not spread to humans, causing new
    and incurable diseases,” the magazine reported.

    More research will need to be done,
    of course, but so far the worst fears of those opposed to xenotransplantation
    and genetic engineering are proving unfounded.


Drug that helps heal skin wounds wins FDA approval. Reuters News Service, May 26, 1998.

Company plans to use pig livers as human dialysis machines. Patricia Reaney, Reuters News Service, July 30, 1998.

Man has rare surgery: his heart is removed, fixed with animal tissue, put back in his chest. Mark Babineck, Associated Press, May 22, 1998.

Transfer of animal cells to humans shows promise. Reuters News Service, August 5, 1998.

Scientists need to better educate the public

Dr. Leroy E. Hood, a genetics researcher
at the University of Washington at Seattle, told a gathering of genetics
researchers that they need to spend more of their time educating the public
on the benefits and ethical challenges of science.

Hood told the researchers gathered
for the Short Course on Experimental and Mammalian Genetics that the coming
years will bring major advances that could potentially revolutionize medical
treatment. At the same time change is coming at such a breakneck pace
that the public is falling further behind and is occasionally caught up in
distorted images about genetics research.

“Scientists say they’re
too busy with their own research and teaching,” Hood told the researchers,
“Well, everyone is busy. It’s a matter of priorities. A scientifically
literate public is important to many areas of research, including getting
it funded.”

Hood’s comments couldn’t
come a moment too soon. Already movements on either side of the Atlantic
are gearing up to protest and perhaps outlaw much of the results of genetic
engineering altogether. Greenpeace and others lead protests against genetically
altered plants while animal rights groups protest and occasionally destroy
research into promising areas of Xenotransplantation (transplanting animal
cells into human beings). If scientists don’t wake up and meet these
challenges head on, the issue might not be whether or not they can get
funded but whether or not they can legally continue to do their important


Scientists urged to help public understand science. Michael Woods, Toledo Blade, July 30, 1998.

Animal Liberation Front creates potential environmental disaster

Last weekend members of the Animal Liberation Front attacked a fur farm in
near Ringwood, England. The activists freed about 6,000 Mink and released
them into the surrounding area.

Unfortunately the mink were released
into an area called The New Forest, a wetland which was listed as one
of the world’s 900 most important wetland areas at the Rio Earth
Summit a few years ago. Since mink are extremely efficient predators,
much of the wildlife at this environmentally sensitive site has been
put in danger by these terrorists who claim to be looking out for animals.

As Howard Taylor, a forest-keeper
in the area, told Agence-France, “The mink is at the top of the food
chain. They are not fussy about what they eat – birds, eggs, small mammals,
fish, anything … Whoever let these animals out, if they think of themselves
as environmental warriors they should have thought of the environmental
consequences of releasing such a vicious predator into such a delicate

Terrence Smith, the owner of the
fur farm that was attacked, told BBC News, “It is an act of gross
stupidity that has not only harmed the welfare of these animals, but also
endangered other local wildlife and put the public at risk.”

Meanwhile, local farmers are busy
shooting the mink, with those who escape that fate almost certainly doomed
to starve to death. Chalk another “victory” up for animal rights


Wildlife disaster anticipated as 6,000 mink set free. Agence-France, August 9, 1998.

Mink terrorise Hampshire after farm release. BBC News Online, August 8, 1998.

Mink run wild after attack on fur farm. Macer Hall, Electronic Telegraph, August 9, 1998.

California animal rights activists start campaign to ban horse meat trade

Animal rights activists in California
are currently pushing a “Save the Horses” ballot initiative
that would make it illegal for Californians to ship their horses to other
states for slaughter and processing into meat.

Horse meat, it turns out, has been
eaten in Europe and Asia for a few centuries. In Japan, for example, dinner
patrons can eat a dish featuring raw horse meat with spices and sauce.
Probably due to Americans fascination with the horse in its role in the
exploration and settlement of our nation, horse meat hasn’t caught
on in the United States.

But there are four processing plants
for horse meat in the United States, the two largest being in Texas. The United
States Department of Agriculture estimates 113,499 horses were slaughtered
in 1997.

The animal rights activists complain
that the method used for killing the horses — a four-inch bolt is shot
through the animal’s skull — is inhumane and doesn’t kill the animals immediately.
Activists have been showing videotape of horses being shot with a bolt
and then writhing on the ground. Animal rights groups also complain the
method of transporting the horses is cruel, with horses dehydrating and
injuries occurring with too many horses loaded into small, cramped quarters.

A recent study by the USDA and
the University of California-Davis contradicts these claims, however.
The study examined 309 horses taken to a slaughterhouse in Texas. It found
that injuries were actually minimized when the horses were loaded closely
together, and found dehydration occurred only after trips of more than
24 hours, and even in those cases the dehydration was described as “mild.”
All the horses were able to support their own weight, contradicting animal
rights activists claims that the animals were unable to stand because
they were so dehydrated.

Carolyn Stull, who conducted the
USDA study, told Scripps Howard that if the “Save the Horses”
initiative passes, it would only send California horse owners to other states to
auction them off, or in some extreme cases to abandon the animals.
“We are going to have a ton of starving horses around” if the
initiative passes, Stull said.


Activists just say neigh to California horse meat trade. Robert Salladay, Associated Press, June 30, 1998.

Animal rights activists lose to Chinatown merchants

For the past few months animal rights
activists in San Francisco have been harassing Chinatown merchants who
sell live animals for food. The activists were upset that live turtles,
frogs and fish are sold in Chinatown markets and allegedly treated “inhumanely.”
The Chinatown merchants accused the animal rights activists of racism
and claimed they were only preserving the traditional practices of their

California Superior Court Judge
Carlos Bea did the sensible thing and ruled that neither the activists’ concerns
nor the merchants claims about their traditional culture were relevant,
but instead that people have a right to kill animals for food even if
doing so inflicts pain.

Bea told the animal rights activists
that if they want new standards for the way animals are treated in the
markets, they would have to appeal to state legislators.

Prior to the lawsuit, the merchants
and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had entered into
a voluntary agreement setting conditions on housing and killing of animals.
Merchants effectively ignored that agreement once the lawsuit was settled,
but may return to it now that the case seems to be resolved.


Chinatown merchants allowed to sell live animals for food. Greg Chang, Associated Press, July 23, 1998.

No Compromise publishes tirade by Rod Coronado

The extremist pro-Animal Liberation Front zine No Compromise recently published
a lengthy tirade by animal rights terrorist Rodney Coronado. Coronado is currently serving
a 57-month sentence for aiding and abetting arson and handling stolen
property. Coronado helped fire-bomb a Michigan State University laboratory
in East Lansing, destroying decades of research into protecting wild mink.

So what does this convicted arsonist have
to say — the government is repressing him. That’s right. In Coronado’s
mind the only reason authorities wanted to jail him for arson was because
ALF activities “threaten big business and the government itself.”
Coronado describes the federal indictment of Josh Ellerman as having a
“political motivation” and complains about continuing “government
harassment and prosecution” of animal rights activists.

Coronado, like other ALF activists
and their supporters, believes that because ALF only firebombs buildings
and automobiles that they aren’t terrorists (or even violent). This
has to set a precedent for self-deception. Of course what ALF engages
in is terrorism. As my dictionary defines it, terrorism is “the unlawful
use or threatened use of force or violence to intimidate or coerce societies
or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.”

In his tirade Coronado admits this
is exactly the purpose of ALF actions, writing “when every new animal
abuse enterprise must factor into their prospective budgets the possibility
that they might be targeted by our less passive forces … then and only
then will they begin to see the need to change.” ALF’s purpose
is to intimidate laboratories and researchers into abandoning their activities.
As Coronado puts it, “our opposition [will] eventually be forced
to reckon with us in a civil manner.”

How people are to be expected to
reckon with arsonists “in a civil manner” is a subject Coronado
doesn’t choose to address.

The most ironic part of Coronado’s
diatribe is his complaint that law enforcement agencies are busy tracking
down ALF members “rather than violent offenders targeting women,
children and senior citizens.” Maybe Coronado didn’t notice
that every time he and his compatriots firebomb an installation or commit
other acts of violence, police and fire officials have to commit large
resources to solving those crimes that otherwise might be used solving
other crimes. This is not, however, the fault of the police and fire officials
but of Coronado and his compatriots.

In addition, while Coronado seems
to be under the delusion that setting fire to an empty building causes
no physical harm, in fact he and other ALF terrorists are endangering
the lives of fire and police officials who must put out these blazes.
Every year too many fire fighters lose their lives battling fires started
by arsonists. It is only a matter of time before the animal rights terrorists
add to this total.

If Coronado really wants police
to stop investigating ALF arsons he should convince his fellow activists
to stop setting fires in the first place. Until then, police and fire
officials will continue to expend resources tracking down animal rights


Government sanctioned repression at all time high – fight back. Rod Coronado, No Compromise, 1998.