Volume 93, Issue 33

Thursday, October 28, 1999


Animal researchers targeted

Facutly complaint makes Carleton ad history

Student council endorses officer's pay increase

Tax freeze priority of city budget

Chinese language to surpass French

Pigs fill trough of medical research


Bass ackwards

Pigs fill trough of medical research

By Joel Brown
Gazette Writer

A Montreal-based scientist will soon bring new meaning to the phrase "pigs in a blanket."

Starting early next year, Francois Pothier, a professor in the faculty of medicine at Laval University, said he will begin work with a group of genetically engineered pigs whose semen may help cure a number of medical conditions.

At a cost of $60,000 each, the pigs are genetically engineered to produce human proteins, Pothier said.

He added there are two methods his researchers are planning to use to collect the semen. One is via a vaginal plug inserted into the female pig. The second entails holding the pig's penis while it ejaculates up to 500 ml of semen. "The pigs look pretty funny. They lie there with their eyes closed almost as if they are sleeping," Pothier explained.

After the semen goes through a purification process, proteins are then extracted and used to help a wide variety of medical patients including those suffering from cancer and diabetes, he said.

Stephanie Brown, advisor for the Animal Alliance of Canada was skeptical about the project's validity. "Science keeps coming up with so-called innovations and they're just another way to [exploit] animals," she said. "Anytime there is a chance for commercial success there are no qualms about proceeding."

Pothier said to his knowledge, the public does not have ethical concerns with the procedure. "The public has no problem with it," Pothier said. "When they find out the pigs are safe and are informed the procedure can save the lives of their children, they accept it very easily."

Although he was unfamiliar with the details of Pothier's research, Anthony Jevnikar, a professor in the faculty of medicine at Western, defended the study and dismissed the claim that only one out of 100 animals are transgenic, or possess genes which are transferable to other species. "Technology has ways to get around that."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999