Thanks to the increased reliability of medical surgeries and improved technological interventions in the field of transplantation, a growing number of people are now listed for transplants. Recent scientific developments indicate that transplantation of organs, tissues or cells between species (xenotransplantation) may at some stage become a realistic option. Despite this, several immunological, biosafety, physiological, regulatory, social and ethical issues still need to be adequately addressed.

For this purpose, the European Union has provided funding for XENOME, an Integrated Project within the European Sixth Framework Programme (Life Sciences, Genomics and Biotechnology for Health). A five-year project (2005-2010), XENOME is characterized by a multidisciplinary and transnational approach. The researchers involved belong to 22 institutions, both academic and private, located in 11 European countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Spain, Sweden).

Observa has been involved by the project coordinator for organising a survey on public orientations towards xenotransplantation in Europe. The survey consists of two phases:

  • The first phase will be dedicated to the collection and analysis of existing research on public consultation and perception of xenotransplants in Europe.
  • The second phase will be focus on a qualitative study of Xenotransplantation public perception.

Five focus groups will be hold in five different European countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Italy, Latvia, United Kingdom) with the aim of exploring and consolidating the main dimensions of public attitudes and perceptions on xenotransplantation. Further attention will be paid to those factors that can be crucial in building effective public consultation strategies on this topic.