Monday, June 1, 2009
Medical Reports: Medicinal Milk
When we hear goat's milk, almost all of us think of cheese, but, believe it or not, the animals are trading the farm for the pharmacy and helping save lives. Seven's Richard Lemus shows us the Medicinal Milk.
WSVN -- Life on the farm can be a good one for a goat, especially these goats.
Tom Newberry: "In this barn, they have everything they could need or want."
Dr. Geoffrey Cox: "It's like the Ritz-Carlton of goat farms."
They're treated like royalty because they're not normal goats. They've actually been created to make a life-saving human drug.
At this farm outside Boston, the goats are genetically-altered to produce a human blood protein in their milk.
Dr. Geoffrey Cox: "This is whole milk. Clarified milk, final product."
Every morning, the nanny goats hoof it to the milking parlor. While they have a bite to eat, technicians connect them to machines where the protein-rich milk is collected. That milk is then sent to a lab where the protein is used to make a new FDA-approved drug called Atryn.
Dr. Geoffrey Cox: "We have 15,000 animals on our farm, and we have about 200 animals that actually produce Atryn."
Atryn is made for people who have low levels of something called Antithrombin, a protein that keeps our blood flowing. If you don't have enough, you could develop deadly blood clots.
The news has the medical community buzzing.
Dr. Luis Villa: "The fact that we now have these animals that are concentrating those proteins in the milk, it's phenomenal. It's cheaper, readily available. It's, in essence, a human factory, but we we've translated that factory into animals."
The company is also developing blood proteins for other disorders.
Dr. Luis Villa: "I think that this is tremendous progress in medicine. There is no doubt about that."
Richard Lemus: "So what sounds like science fiction could be opening the barn door to a new class of medicine."