In the milk of 30 genetically modified goats on GTC Biotherapeutics's farm in Charlton, Mass., is a drug that can literally make your blood flow--the human protein antithrombin, which inhibits clotting. In a dramatic reversal, after European reg-ulators rejected this drug (called ATryn), they now look ready to approve it later this year. The ruling would make ATryn the first human protein made by a transgenic animal for commercial production.
Perhaps more important, the judgment in favor of the goats paves the way for more drug-making transgenic farm animals. Origen Therapeutics in Burlingame, Calif., has developed a versatile, cost-effective method for genetically transforming chickens--one that is on par with creating transgenic mice, now common in the lab. In principle, the birds could produce a variety of different proteins in their eggs, including drugs.
Charles Q. Choi is a frequent contributor to Scientific American. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, Science, Nature, Wired, and LiveScience, among others. In his spare time, he has traveled to all seven continents. Follow Charles Q. Choi on Twitter