Saturday, June 03, 2006

Goats now save lives during surgery.

Goats are now saving lives. Thanks to the wonders of genetic modification a goat can now produce a gene that helps inhibit blood clotting. There are people who are born with a deficiency of this gene and don't produce anti-thrombin. And the problem is that it means their blood clots too quickly during surgery. About one in every 3,000 to 5,000 people is inflicted with it.

People are normally put on blood thinners but there are cases where such thinners are considered very risky. Instead they are given an anti-thrombin replacement but these are extracted from blood plasma and also present risks of exposing the patient to numerous blood borne illnesses.

The question was then how to produce the anti-thrombin without such risks. And that is where genetic modification came to the rescue. Now by modifying a goat's genetic structure they can have it produce human anti-thrombin in its milk. It is then extracted from the milk and sold as a drug that is safer to use than the alternatives. According to the producers one goat can produce the equivalent of 90,000 blood collections.

If this is "playing God" we need more of it.