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A Mexican clinical trial that used pig cells to treat patients with diabetes has sparked a new round of debate on the ethical and social issues surrounding the transplantation of animal tissues into humans (known as xenotransplantation).

Critics say that the techniques used in the study have not been properly tested in animals, and that any approach should at least be proven to work in non-human primates before it is tried out in humans.

But the researchers defend their work, saying that in the absence of any published guidance about clinical trials on xenotransplantation in Mexico, they are following the US Food and Drug Administration guidelines.

Link to Nature news story

Reference: Nature 419, 5 (2002)

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