Drug goats are the next big thing

Pax Arcana


Goats are all the rage these days. Not only are we finally discovering that goats are healthy and delicious, but now it appears they might also save your life.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new anti-clotting drug (ATryn) made from goats that “secrete a special therapeutic protein” into their milk. The drug won’t be on the shelf anytime soon because have you ever seen a bunch of secreting goats on a drug store shelf? Sure, it’s hilarious, but it’s also dangerous. Someone could slip and fall.

Anyway, ATryn could be important because it could lead to even awesomer animal drugs:

“It’s really a milestone event,” said Eric Overstrom, chairman of biology and biotechnology at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, who collaborated with GTC on some of its early research using goats. “This adds to the toolbox for the pharmaceutical industry.”

Though ATryn is likely to have limited marketing potential because it would serve a relatively small pool of patients, the drug’s approval could clear the way to produce many more drugs with genetically modified animals, an approach nicknamed “pharming.”

Of course the milestone wasn’t cheered by everyone. The head of the nonprofit Center for Food Safety — which is apparently a thing — says when it comes to drug animals, oooogedy boooooogedy whaaaaahaaaaaaa beeeafrraaaaaaaaiiiiiiddd!!!!

“The creation of GE animals is a very slippery slope,” Jaydee Hanson, the center’s policy analyst on cloning and genetics, said in a statement. “All it takes is one mating between an escaped specimen and a natural animal to set off a chain of events that could lead to contamination or extinction.”

OK, I guess he has a point. On CSI: Miami this week they had a whole show about something called a “drug mule,” which is apparently a mule that looks like a Venezuelan teenager and has heroin up its ass. Too many of those and we’re all dead.

Fresh from the farm, a biotech ‘milestone’ [Boston.com]


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