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To make the drug, scientists at GTC put DNA for the human antithrombin protein into single cell embryos of goats. Goat embryos with the gene were then inserted into the wombs of surrogate mothers who gave birth to baby goats carrying the new trait.
The first of these goats were called the "founders." Their offspring also carry the gene. The females produce high levels of antithrombin in their milk, from which the protein is collected and purified.
GTC's production comes from a herd of about 200 goats on a farm in central Massachusetts, milked twice a day. They look no different from any other goats.
Up to now, antithrombin has been produced from blood products collected from human donors. Making the protein from goats may be better for humans, said Dr. Stephan Moll, a hematologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who consults for the company. It would ensure a steady supply and reduce concerns about infection.
"It's a new mechanism by which drugs could be produced in pretty large volume in the future," said Moll, who is also a top medical adviser to the National Alliance for Thrombosis and Thrombofilia, a group that represents patients with the blood disorder.
ATryn has already been approved in Europe.
On the Net:
GTC site: http://tinyurl.com/9n36pe
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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