Pharm Animals - Engineered Goat Makes Drugs In Milk

'Pharm animals' - animals genetically engineered to produce drugs in their milk - just hit the big time in the US. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of the first drug produced by livestock that have been given a human gene.


(Engineered goat at GTC Biotherapeutics' farm.)

The drug is a human protein extracted from the milk of genetically engineered goats.

Made by a company called GTC Biotherapeutics, the human anticlotting protein is produced by a herd of 200 bioengineered goats living under carefully controlled conditions on a farm in central Massachusetts.

Proponents say such “pharm animals” could become a means of producing biotechnology drugs at lower cost or in greater quantities than the existing methods — which include extracting proteins from donated human blood or growing them in large steel vats of genetically engineered cells.

The protein in the goat milk, antithrombin, is sometimes in short supply or unavailable for pharmaceutical use because of a shortage of human plasma donations. GTC Biotherapeutics said one of its goats can produce as much antithrombin in a year as can be derived from 90,000 blood donations.

This is old news to sf fans, who recall the fabricows from David Brin's 1990 story Piecework:

Twenty-four hours a day, lorries pulled out from the milking sheds and parturition barns, carrying bulk loads of gene-designed oils, polymers, and industrial membranes. The mass production of specially bred fabricows dwarfed the output of smalltime contractors like Perseph or Io. Rumour had it ICI housed their pampered creatures here on the south bank to intimidate the pieceworkers living in derelict marinas and towering co-op houseboats nearby.
(Read more about David Brin's fabricows)

From F.D.A. Approves Drug From Gene-Altered Goats.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/10/2009)

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