FDA Approves Drugs Made from Genetically Engineered Goats' Milk [science!]

The New York Times reports that the FDA has cleared for human consumption a drug produced by livestock that have been genetically modified with a human gene.

The drug, meant to prevent fatal blood clots in people with a rare condition, is a human protein extracted from the milk of genetically engineered goats.

At the same time, the F.D.A. also approved the goats used to make the drug, the first such animals cleared under guidelines the agency adopted only last month to regulate the use of transgenic animals in the nation’s drug and food supply.

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.

The use of livestock to derive drugs for human consumption is viewed by proponents as a more cost-effective way to produce producing biotechnology drugs. The goat-based pharmaceuticals also have the advantage of a rhyming slogan: "'If you need more, you breed more,' said Thomas Newberry, a spokesman for GTC, which is based in Framingham, Mass."

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