Xenografts and Retroviruses

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Science  20 Aug 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5431, pp. 1221-1222
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5431.1221

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Pigs have been suggested as a source of tissues and organs for transplantation. However, as Weiss discusses in a Perspective, one of the main safety concerns has been that porcine retroviruses present in pig tissue might take up residence in the human host after transplantation, resulting in the emergence of a new infectious disease. Weiss argues that we should be encouraged by recent data (reported by Paradis et al. in this issue) demonstrating that none of 160 patients exposed to pig tissues over the last 12 years show evidence of pig retroviruses in their blood cells or serum. Weiss suggests that we proceed with xenotransplantation cautiously while vigilantly monitoring all transplant recipients and patients exposed to pig cells for any signs of infection with porcine retroviruses.