On 8 July 2002, the National Health and Medical Research Council released a discussion paper1 and draft guidelines for xenotransplantation research, with the aim of promoting widespread community debate of the issues involved. In the discussion paper, xenotransplantation is defined as the placement of animal cells, tissues or organs into humans, and includes the exposure of human tissue or cells to animal cells. Examples include the external perfusion of blood through a "bioartificial liver" (ie, an external apparatus containing pig liver cells which are separated from the perfused human blood by a semipermeable membrane), or culture of human skin cells on mouse fibroblasts for later use in treating burns. This definition excludes implantation of inert, sterilised animal tissues, as currently used to create artificial heart valves.
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