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Abstract of Fox Maggie Cells From Pig Snouts May Repair Spine Pigs Have Worked to Help Heal Spinal Cords in Rats Science News August 2000 WASHINGTON Aug 30 - Cells taken from the snouts of genetically engineered pigs have worked to help heal severed spinal cords in rats scientists said on Wednesday -- and they hope the experiment can help them find a way to use animal cells to help humans with spinal cord injuries The researchers at Yale University and Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc hope they may be on the right path to finding a way to make it easier to transplant pig cells into people Toshio Imaizumi of Yale and colleagues looked to the olfactory bulbs of pigs -- the parts that do the hard work of sniffing out food -- because they are rich in cells known as olfactory ensheathing cells OECs and Schwann cells These cells help regenerate and grow nerve cells especially the long axons that connect one neuron to another When transplanted into rats who had their spinal cords cut the transplanted pig cells did seem to move into the gap and help the severed axons grow back the researchers reported in the September issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology The regenerated axons conducted impulses faster than normal axons the researchers wrote But the researchers are far from showing that such transplants would work in people and they did not let the rats live long enough to see if they would eventually become able to move normally There are many obstacles and objections to using pig cells in humans All animals except for apes and humans produce certain proteins on the surfaces of their cells Humans and apes produce a very strong immune response against these surface sugars and tissues transplanted from animals are usually rejected very quickly To
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