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Transgenic chickens for medical use released in the USA

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the world's first genetically modified (GM) chicken. The variety, however, is not the same as that used for human consumption. The transgenic bird, whose production was regulated in December 2015, produces a drug in its eggs capable of treating people with a rare genetic condition, Lysosomal Acid Lipase Deficiency (LAL).

 

The GM chicken produces in its eggs the Sebelipase alpha, enzyme whose commercial name is Kanuma. Also known as Wolman's disease, LAL is a rare condition and affects less than 200,000

people in the United States, approximately 0.05% of the population of the country. However, the evil is especially dangerous for children, leading newborns almost always to death. The carriers of the disease do not have the enzyme responsible for degrading esterified cholesterol and triglycerides. This progressively causes these fats to accumulate in the liver, intestines and the wall of blood vessels.

Kanuma can be extracted from egg white by transgenic animals and given to the veins of those with the deficiency. "By using the drug as a result of this technology, the person with Wolman Disease will have, for the first time, quality of life and chances of survival," says Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA Drug Evaluation Center. According to the researcher, the new drug was tested countless times and the result was a significant improvement of the patients treated with Kanuma when compared with those who were submitted to the placebo.

 

The director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine of the FDA, Bernadette Dunham, also said that, in addition to the characteristic introduced, the animals are the same as those not genetically modified. "Even so, we will rigorously monitor to ensure that neither the hens nor the eggs they produce enter the human food chain," Dunham said. The GM animal is part of a new generation of transgenics that produces medicinal compounds, the biofactories.

 

Source: FDA, December 2015

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