A lot of research is going on to bring down the cost of cancer drugs. In a novel attempt, a group of researchers in New Zealand has come up with the idea of genetically modifying goats to manufacture the cancer drug instead of manufacturing it in a laboratory. The blockbuster drugs used for cancer treatments are expensive than older drugs as these are complex proteins called monoclonal antibodies, which are much complicated to make.
The researchers have genetically modified the goats to produce cetuximab, a drug which is primarily used against colorectal cancer and also used for lung and other cancers. The researchers believe that the cancer treatment cost can be brought down by mass producing the drug in goats. Götz Laible, who is leading the team of researchers at the New Zealand government-owned institute Ag Research, said that it was more economic to make cetuximab drugs in animals as their mammary glands can produce large amounts of proteins.
He mentioned that the driving force behind the research was to bring down the cost of medicine for the patients. Cetuximab is complex drug and expensive to make. This is because the protein’s chemical structure is so complex that pharma companies use biological machinery in specially modified cultured mouse cells to make the drug. This also involves slow process.
Laible said that they first introduced the genes holding monoclonal antibodies into the genome of gout cells. Live goats were then generated using cloning technology. The cloning technology used here was the same that was used in generating sheep Dolly
The researchers shared their findings last week that goats can produce an increased quantity of the drug. However, these are yet to be tested if they are effective and same as that is derived from mouse cells.
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