ABSTRACT: The outstanding results recently obtained in islet xenotransplantation suggest that porcine islet clinical trials may soon be scientifically appropriate. Before the initiation of such clinical studies, however, it is essential that a series of key ethical and regulatory conditions are satisfied. As far as ethics is concerned, the fundamental requirements have been previously reported in a position paper of the Ethics Committee of the International Xenotransplantation Association. These include aspects related to the selection of adequately informed, appropriate recipients; animal breeding and welfare; safety issues and the need for a favorable risk/benefit assessment based on strong efficacy data in relevant xenotransplantation studies in the primate. As most diabetic patients are not at risk of short-term mortality without islet transplantation, only a small subset of patients could currently be considered for any type of islet transplant. However, there are potential advantages to xenotransplantation that could result in a favorable benefit-over-harm determination for islet xenotransplantation in this subpopulation and ultimately in a broader population of diabetic patients. With regard to regulatory aspects, the key concepts underlying the development of the regulatory models in existence in the United States, Europe and New Zealand are discussed. Each of these models provides an example of a well-defined regulatory approach to ensure the initiation of well-regulated and ethically acceptable clinical islet xenotransplantation trials. At this stage, it becomes apparent that only a well-coordinated international effort such as that initiated by the World Health Organization, aimed at harmonizing xenotransplantation procedures according to the highest ethical and regulatory standards on a global scale, will enable the initiation of clinical xenotransplantation trials under the best auspices for its success and minimize any risk of failure.
Xenotransplantation 06/2009; 16(4):203 - 214. · 2.33 Impact Factor