At a time when the supply of live animals for research use has become unreliable, expensive, and controversial, a Philadelphia organization is providing experimenters with a convenient alternative: human tissue. The National Disease Research Interchange, founded by Lee Ducat and funded in part by NIH grants, links scientists into a nationwide network of organ banks and hospitals whose excess surgical, transplant, and autopsy material would otherwise go to waste. In business for the past decade, NDRI has helped 500 scientists obtain a steady supply of eyes, livers, pancreata, and other tissues. "We can retrieve just about any organ from the human body," says Ducat, who became concerned about the availability of tissue for research after her son developed juvenile diabetes. She adds, "Scientists need the courage, the insight, and the vision" to develop protocols for human tissue experimentation.
At least 80 diseases are now under investigation by the Interchange's patrons....
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