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Scientists create cloned pigs

Scientists create cloned pigs
LONDON - The company that helped create Dolly, the world\'s first cloned sheep, has produced genetically-modified pigs, bringing pig-to-human transplants a step closer.
Scottish biotech firm PPL Therapeutics said on Wednesday its cloning techniques had resulted in the birth of five piglets. PPL said the five healthy piglets had the genetic capability to allow their organs to be transferred to the human body without being rejected. The pigs, born on Christmas Day, are called Noel, Angel, Star, Joy and Mary. PPL said it intended to use the pigs as part of its programme to treat humans suffering from diabetes. Pigs are thought to be the most suitable animals for providing organs for transplant into humans. A pig\'s heart has the same size and power output as a human one, scientists say. PPL said the pigs\' biological make-up had \"knocked out\" the gene that usually leads to the human body rejecting the pig\'s organs. \"The ability to delete, or \'knock-out\' this gene, therefore, provides a vital step in producing pigs with organs and cells useful in humans,\" PPL added in a statement. The stock market also heralded the births, as PPL\'s shares closed up 24-1/2 pence, or 46 percent, to 77-1/2 pence. At that latest price, PPL has a market value of around 96 million pounds. The stock remains well below last year\'s peak of 194 pence, however, after PPL shares tumbled on concerns it was burning up cash too quickly to fund its research programme. ING Barings analyst Max Herrmann said that while the development was exciting, he felt the rise in PPL\'s shares was overdone, since PPL would still have to overcome certain hurdles, such as raising necessary funds, before it could bring the products to market. \"It\'s a long way off from any clinical products, but it\'s clearly a step in the right direction,\" said Herrmann, who does not plan to change his \"hold\" rating on PPL\'s shares. PPL shares have underperformed the FTSE pharmaceutical sector by about 70 percent in the last twelve months. Story by Sudip Kar-Gupta REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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