Scientists at Imutran, the British subsidiary of Novartis, have been slaving away in their labs for years trying to score a viable success in their experiments transplanting organs and tissues between species, a practice known as xenotransplantation. But according to a DAILY EXPRESS expose cited by THE ECOLOGIST, their efforts have been riddled with animal cruelty, not to mention botched lab techniques. Uncaged Animals, a UK advocacy group that blew the whistle on Imutran, charges that the company also exaggerated their research results in the pursuit of profit.
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Uncaged Campaigns released a report on instances of cruelty to the monkeys and baboons that serve as research subjects, and sloppy science in the experiments — a report that Imutran/Novartis is now trying to squelch in court.
The controversy surrounding the case points up further concerns about xenotransplantation’s potential dangers, including the transmission of diseases and even cancer-causing retroviruses. The issue warrants closer examination, The Ecologist cautions, given biotech’s cheerleading on “advances” such as the transplantation of pig organs into ailing humans.