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An Open Letter to Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency

Today, 24 April 2017, on World Day for Animals in Laboratories, Animal Justice Project Science Advisor has penned an Open Letter to Dr Hudson, Chief Executive, Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The letter follows a Sunday Times article, entitled ‘Pig organ transplant to save babies’ lives’ [1]. According to the article, the treatment will be used next year by doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London on children born with severe cases of oesophageal atresia. The idea behind the treatment is to transplant an oesophagus obtained from a genetically modified pig. Also, according to the article, ‘before the first patient can receive a transplant, the treatment must be approved by the Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The Open Letter outlines the ethical and public health concerns regarding the use of animals as spare parts, also the possible legislative issues.

The concerns include:

– The deleterious consequences on the well-being of pigs used in medical procedures

– Risks for the recipients of animal parts. Despite recent advances in genome editing for xenotransplantation, there are still many challenges to overcome before organ transplant from animals becomes a commonplace

– Requirements of Directive 2010/63/EU which state that animals be replaced wherever possible by other means

At a time when 3D bioprinting of human tissue is available, in addition to other advanced tissue engineering technologies, it surely makes more sense to invest our resources into refining these promising human based methods, rather than taking a leap in the dark by creating genetically modified animal organs!

You can read the letter in full HERE.