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In February 2007, one of the finest pig barns in the history of the world opened at a secret location in western Wisconsin. The $6.2 million, 21,000-square-foot Islet Resource Facility is a bio-secure facility for 100 “medical grade” pigs. A religious farming community, the Hutterian Brethren, is helping care for the pigs, which are barricaded from the outside world and pampered with filtered air, sterilized water, and decontaminated food.
The Spring Point Project was established to supply an unlimited supply of high-grade pig pancreatic islets. Now that Dr. Bernhard Hering, scientific director of the Diabetes Institute for Immunology & Transplantation at the University of Minnesota, has shown that pig islet cell transplantation reverses diabetes in monkeys, demand for the pig islets is expected to go whole hog.
“Our success in monkeys suggests it is feasible to use pig islet cells in the not-too-distant future to reverse diabetes in people,” Dr. Hering said. The goal is to have suitable donor pigs available by the time human clinical trials could begin in the United States, possibly within the next two or three years.
Sources: Spring Point Project Web site
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