Swallowing pig sperm: A miracle cure?

A group of Canadian geneticists believes that pig semen may be the best building block for human growth hormones.

Published October 26, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

Oct. 26, 1999

Will semen spurting out of a hog's penis provide the next
wonder drug for humanity?

Lusty sows might regard swine spunk as sexy, and Nebraska
pig-ranchers accept it as a procreating necessity, but ordinary humans
undoubtedly view oinker jism as a repulsive fluid they'd rather not think

Pig sperm doesn't bore Canadian researchers, however. Frances Pothier
and his Department of Animal Sciences colleagues at Quebec's Laval
University are presently attempting to transform hog wads into an array of
growth hormone (GH) pharmaceutical products, notes the November issue of
Nature Biotechnology.

"We will introduce a new human gene into the pig embryo at the one-cell stage, with micro-manipulation," Pothier explained to Salon Urge in a phone interview.
"We can introduce any genes that we want: genes that combat hemophilia,
genetic lung disease and cystic fibrosis, for example. We can also
introduce genes that act as 'red blood cell boosters' -- this product will
help patients recover from chemotherapy."

Geneticists are already producing pharmaceutical proteins in the
mammary glands of goats, sheep and cows, but Pothier believes pig
testicles provide a cheaper, faster medical factory. "The gestation period of the
pig is only three months, three weeks and three days," he said.
"And in six months, the pig starts ejaculating. In one year [with a pig]
you will have the product; with a cow you have to wait two and a half

Hogs, moreover, are prolific splashers: they expel about a cup of sperm
with each ejaculation. Harvesting piggy ooze is also simple.
"Pigs can be trained to mount a special bench every day, and ejaculate
inside it," said Pothier. "The process takes only 10 to 20 minutes."

Future patients who fear they might receive prescriptions that
require them to swallow spoonfuls of hog semen daily need not worry. The
boar-juice, Pothier assures us, "will be purified in very complex procedures."

By Hank Hyena

Hank Hyena is a former columnist for SF Gate, and a frequent contributor to Salon.

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