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Goats Supply Controversial New Drug through Genetic Engineering

Monday, January 26, 2009 by: Elizabeth Walling
Tags: goats, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) A new drug may soon be introduced to the market whose origins are a subject of suspicion and controversy. The drug is no ordinary medication manufactured in a laboratory. It was made in goats which have been genetically engineered to produce a large amount of the protein antithrombin in their milk. This protein acts as a blood thinner in humans.

This new drug derived from goats is covered heavily by the media because of its progressive origins. It may indeed be a technological breakthrough, but for many it`s a sign that medical technology has gone too far and that a troubling genetically-engineered future is right around the corner.

A rare disease which affects about 1 out of every 5,000 individuals causes the body to produce inadequate amounts of antithrombin, which increases a person`s risk of blood clots. The new drug, called ATryn, is targeted toward these individuals.

ATryn would not replace conventional blood thinners which are used to manage the daily effects of antithrombin deficiency. Instead, this new medication would be given intravenously for limited periods before and after especially risky events such as surgery or childbirth. The limited use of this drug makes it questionable as to why it`s so necessary to manufacture it using such an unnatural process.

It is up to the FDA whether or not this drug is approved for widespread use. This will be a historical decision, as this is the first time the FDA has reviewed a drug from a genetically engineered animal. Whatever its origins, the FDA will mainly be looking at whether the drug seems to be safe and effective. The fact that it is genetically engineered may have little bearing on the decision.

Of course, if ATryn is approved, it may lead to the research and approval of similar drugs derived from the milk of genetically altered animals. This leads to a wealth of protest from the many people who object to genetically engineered products. For all the people who feel uneasy about consuming genetically modified food, the idea of taking genetically engineered drugs is even more disturbing. The fact that the FDA deems it safe means very little to anyone concerned with the origin of medication. After all, there is no way to yet know the long-term effects of such drugs.

Genetic engineering alters DNA in ways which would never occur in nature. This mutation could easily cause unforeseen complications, such as the formation of toxins or allergens. The effect of these problems may not be easy to detect beforehand. For example, its very difficult to test the long-term complications of using genetically engineered drugs, or to find out if such drugs might adversely affect certain individuals more than others.

Kaplan, Karen. New old-fashioned drug makers: goats. The Los Angeles Times. (2009)

Alonso-Zaldivar, Ricardo. Drug Made From Goat Milk Nears Approval. Time Magazine. (2009)

About the author

Elizabeth Walling is a freelance writer specializing in health and family nutrition. She is a strong believer in natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about health and wellness. You can visit her blog to learn more:

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