"Hey, Darryl! Ya'll better get on down to the barn and milk the goats. We're almost out of anti-thrombin."
GTC Biotherapeutics has done a little tinkering with our friend Billy. He and his pals have been genetically altered. Geneticists have spliced the human gene responsible for creating a blood-clotting chemical into the goats' DNA. While this is by no means the first time that human genes have been put into animals (and I don't mean that in the lonely shepherd way), it marks the growing trend of modifying animals to become drug factories. Traditionally, the only way to gather the target chemical, anti-thrombin, has been to collect it from donated blood plasma. GTC's goats are tweaked to create AT in their milk. This method is significantly more resource efficient that using plasma:
"It takes just 18 months to produce a lactating animal and in a single year one goat produces the equivalent of 90,000 blood collections," [Geoffrey Cox, GTC CEO] told the BBC News website.GTC is waiting to see if the European Medicines Agency will give them the go ahead to license there.
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | 'Pharmed' goats seek drug license
Update: It looks like GTC has to do a little more research before the EMA gives them the green light - 'Pharmed' goat drug not approved
Update #2 (06/02/06): Success! The men in the white coats have cleared Billy and his buddies to start churning out the meds - Go ahead for 'pharmed' goat drug