Somewhere in North Grafton, Mass., lives a drove of remarkable miniature pigs. They’ve been specifically bred for more than 40 years to help save humans’ lives. In a few weeks, they’ll be put to the test for the first time.

For years, scientists have sought some way to protect raw, burned flesh — and some think these pigs can help. Without something covering burned skin, a person’s body loses water and protein and is more vulnerable than usual to infection. (It also hurts like hell.) Pig skin is more available than human skin, the covering of choice. But due to concerns about pieces of an ancient virus that lurk in pigs’ DNA, it hadn’t been explored in a clinical trial.

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