posted on May, 4 2004 @ 12:06 PM
Korean Scientists Create Medicine-Embedded Pigs
By Bae Keun-min
Milk and urine of genetically engineered pigs will be sources of high-priced medicine for thrombosis, or blood clotting, which can result in a stroke
or heart attack.
With the technology, South Korea has become the world's second nation to extract the medicine from livestock, following the United States.
The Rural Development Administration (RDA) said on Monday that it created five pigs containing human tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), a natural
gene preventing thrombosis.
When blood clots in a vein or artery it hinders the supply of oxygen and nutrition to an area of the body.
The RDA said it created the pigs containing human genes by injecting human tPA into fertilized pig eggs.
The tPa injection, considered one of 10 biotechnology medicines in the world, costs some 53.5 million won per gram and whose global market is
estimated to be $350 million (410.55 billion won), according to the RDA.
The U.S. succeeded in producing goats with human tPA in 1998 and has been clinically testing the medicine extracted from the goat milk.
Currently, medicine for thrombosis is mostly produced through cultivation of a hamster cell, so-called rtPA. But the pigs will result in reduced
production costs by one-hundredth if the separation and refining process has improved, the RDA said.
When technology is enhanced to raise the extraction rate presently at 10 percent to 50 percent, the commercialization of the product will be started,
the RDA said. It aims to increase the rate to 50 percent within this year, and further pull up to 90 percent in cooperation with medicine companies.
The invention is part of government efforts to nurture the biotechnology industry as one of the next-generation's growth engines.