Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Manning’s Struve tells Congress big ideas can emerge in small towns

Carroll Daily Times Herald
SIOUX CENTER — Dr. Rexanne Struve, a Manning veterinarian and pioneer on the animal-raising side of the emerging field of pig-to-human organ transplants, has a message for national lawmakers.

Big ideas don’t always come from big companies.

Struve recently testified in a U.S. House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Horticulture field hearing at Dordt College in Sioux Center.

“While swine vaccine trials remain the core of the present business, Struve Labs has begun producing antibodies for use in treating human diseases,” Struve told the House panel. “Work has also been done on the development of transgenic pigs which carry enough human genes to allow the use of pig organs to replace human organs.”

The developing technology could mean revolutionary changes in the fight against age-old diseases, Struve said.

Struve, who has traveled with Gov. Tom Vilsack and others to promote bioscience trade and development, envisions a world of medicine in the not-too-distant future in which organs in specially raised pigs, and the pigs themselves, are used to eradicate diabetes, repair ripped-up knees in men and women and provide a host of medical solutions, all through a process broadly known as xenotransplantation or animal-to-human transplants.

“This has huge implications in the treatment of human maladies such as Type II diabetes, heart, liver, and kidney failure, and burn wounds, to name a few,” she said.

Future plans for Struve Labs include raising small numbers of these unique pigs in specialized units on family farms in close proximity to a central surgical facility.

“From these animals, this hospital will harvest organs which will then be flown to transplant centers all over the U.S.,” Struve said. “The need for educated, high-level positions such as surgeons and technicians will profoundly affect the local area and its economy. Sioux Center has seen the same effect with the progression of Trans Ova.”

Wayne Seaman, a member of the Carroll Area Development Corp., who recently visited Struve Labs for an existing business and industry dialogue, says the operation holds major promise for economic development, and moreover, humanity.

“This is cutting-edge research that I believe will be molded into the health-care of humans,” Seaman said in an interview with the Daily Times Herald. “I just leave there stimulated every time I visit there.”

He said the business is about far more than Iowa agriculture.

“Rexanne would like to save local farmers and hog producers,” Seaman said. “I told her her view has to be bigger than that. She has to save humanity. She’s got a bigger agenda.”

Struve Labs produces pigs by the gold standard method for clean stock derivation.
These CDCD (Caesarian Derived, Colostrum Deprived) pigs are born within a sterile bubble by Caesarian Section, then taken to a biosecure laboratory where they are raised without colostrum, or the mother’s first milk. This means these pigs haven’t been exposed to the bacteria and viruses that are present in the mother sow’s body.

“In the recent past, CDCD pigs have been used primarily for FDA required safety and efficacy tests of vaccines used in U.S. swine herds,” Struve said. “These pigs are also used to study emerging swine diseases, since CDCD pigs are free of confounding factors which may skew the course of a disease entity.”

Struve Labs began as Merrick Labs in Manilla and has expanded throughout the last 45 years.
“It provides jobs and opportunities for local people to work and improve their skills and wages,” Struve said. “It has progressed to an entirely different business now, with global impact and possibilities. This is a boon to rural Western Iowa.

“Any legislation that can help producer entrepreneurs to improve their businesses in rural America will be welcomed and appreciated. The term ‘producer’ may include businesses like Struve Labs that are using crops and livestock previously considered commodities, to improve the health and well being of humankind and to provide improved livelihoods in rural Iowa and America.”

Seaman said Struve’s testimony should expose her lab to more research and university opportunities.

“I think it opens up a cash flow,” he said.

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