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Pathogen-Free Pigs Valued At $350,000 Each Offer Hope To People With Type 1 Diabetes

Woburn, MA (PRWEB) June 09, 2013

Connecting shipwrecked sailors from the 19th century to a potential cure or long-lasting implantable therapy for Type 1 diabetes may seem a stretch., an online source for persons with diabetes, published an article June 5 that tells how Living Cell Technologies, a New Zealand company focused on porcine islet cell encapsulation and implantation, is using beta-cell filled islets taken from newborn, disease-free piglets to potentially cure or dramatically alter therapy in Type 1 patients.

According to the article in Insulin Nation, the breeder of these pigs, Living Cell Technologies, is currently testing islet transplants into humans in Argentina, Russia, China, and their own country. Starting with a herd of 8 Auckland Island pigs in 1986, LCT now has more than 1,000 virus and disease-free pigs breeding 3 times per year. Some estimate the value of each pig at $350,000. If they offer hope of diabetes remission in Type 1 diabetes, that might be a low estimate.

The pigs Living Cell Technologies uses to breed four-legged therapy would not exist without the concern of Captain Abraham Bristow for the welfare of shipwrecked sailors in 1807. That’s when Bristow released a small herd of pigs on Auckland Island, a remote place halfway between New Zealand and the Antarctic, whose rocky approaches spawned many shipwrecks among seal and whaling parties in the 19th century. Out of a similar concern for stranded mariners, more pigs were introduced to the island before 1850. But by 1899, the shipwrecked sailors were gone, and only the pigs remained.

The pigs of Auckland Island spent almost 100 years without human contact and thus reproduced themselves without contamination by any human-borne viruses or diseases. The Auckland Island pigs thrived and multiplied, to the point where they threatened the entire ecosystem of the island. By the mid-1980s, conservation and wildlife officials in New Zealand decided to cull the herds and to bring some pigs back to the mainland for study. At that point, the Auckland Island pigs were deemed the only virus-free pigs on the planet. At an estimated value of $350,000 each, they’ll never be used for bacon.

In 1986, Living Cell Technologies (LCT), acquired the company’s first herd of 8 Auckland Island pigs. The company has been breeding pathogen-free pigs for use as a source of islet cells for transplantation into people with diabetes since 1986. “LCT was the first company to enter clinical trials using these therapeutic porcine cell implants, so we’ve really led the field in this work, ”according to Andrea Grant, now LCT’s Managing Director and CEO. The company’s flagship product is Diabecell®, an implantable diabetes therapy using encapsulated porcine islets. After transplantation, the islets promote new beta cell growth and ward off immune system attack, without using immunosuppression therapy, in people with Type 1 diabetes.

More details at the article in Insulin Nation.

SelfRx is a Massachusetts-based corporation, poised to become the premier digital platform for chronic care conditions. Insulin Nation, its lead online resource, is produced by EPS Communications (, a marketing, design, and communications firm based in Woburn, MA, that has published Health Matters magazine and also produced the “Extreme Diabetes Makeover”. For further information about SelfRx (, Insulin Nation (, or to schedule an interview, contact Martin Hensel at martin(at)insulinnation(dot)com or at 617-993-6605.

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