Cloned pigs, down on the corporate farm

Dozing on a farm in Blacksburg, Va., are Alexis, Carrel, Christa, Dotcom, and Millie, the first pigs ever cloned from the cells of an adult swine. The corporate parent of the litter is PPL Therapeutics of Edinburgh, Scotland, the same firm that funded the creation of Dolly, the cloned sheep (SN: 3/1/97, p. 132: http://www.sciencenews.org/sn_arc97/3_1_97/fob1.htm).

Hoping to attract investors, company officials announced their latest feat before submitting the research to a scientific journal. Cloning pigs is the first step in the plans of PPL Therapeutics to genetically engineer swine whose organs can be transplanted into people (SN: 11/4/95, p. 298: http://www.sciencenews.org/sn_edpik/ms_4.htm).

In particular, the company wants to create pigs from cells in which it has deactivated the gene for an enzyme that places certain sugar molecules on the surface of every swine cell. Because people don’t make this sugar molecule, the human immune system normally attacks pig cells sporting it.

From the Nature Index

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