SIDEBAR: Alternate Paths to Xenotransplantation
The tantalizing possibility of using a potentially unlimited supply of organs from animals to replace damaged human ones -- through xenotransplantation -- has, in just the past few years, jumped the divide from purely academic possibility to big-business likelihood. A half-dozen or so well-supported biotechnology companies have sprung into existence to pursue the creation of transgenic animals -- pigs with human genes, primarily -- or to develop novel antirejection strategies to support animal-organ transplants. The goal is to alleviate a desperate and growing shortage of human organs available for transplantation.
BIG BUSINESS: About 100,000 patients annually could use xenografts, says Alexion's Stephen P. Squinto.
However, the emergence of this new industry has sparked sharp opposition from animal-rights advocates, who call the move poor science, poor medicine, and an unethical exploitation of nonhuman species. They and other critics also fear that the rush to...