The following was written in response to a Notebook item in your March 2, 1998 issue [The Scientist, 12:27, March 2, 1998]:
Jeff Getty may be the brunt of gauche humor regarding his primate blood relatives. His assessment of the anti- xenotransplantation sentiment among scientific and medical professionals and the lay public, however, is simply wrong. There is no "deep-seated psychological barrier" to using animal cells, tissues, and organs in human patients. What exists instead is a very real threat to public health.
Getty and his xeno-cohorts are proposing experimental procedures that could cause far worse medical devastation than that claimed for AIDS or organ shortages. There is more at stake with this issue than egos of transplant surgeons, the profits of pharmaceutical companies, and the survival of individual patients.
The world's leading experts on primate retroviruses all agree that such a deadly scenario is a...