US Government Approves Transgenic Chicken the Eggs of the Genetically Engineered Animal Contain an Enzyme That Can Treat a Rare Disease.

— Written By

Rachel Becker
09 December 2015
From Nature

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a chicken that has been genetically engineered to produce a drug in its eggs.

The drug, Kanuma (sebelipase alfa), is a recombinant human enzyme marketed by Alexion Pharmaceuticals. It replaces a faulty enzyme in people with a rare, inherited condition that prevents the body from breaking down fatty molecules in cells.

Following its approval by the FDA on 8 December, Kanuma joins a small group of ‘farmaceuticals’ on the US market. In 2009, the agency approved genetically modified goats that produce an anticoagulant called ATryn (antithrombin) in their milk. And last year, the FDA authorized a drug for treating hereditary angioedema that is produced by transgenic rabbits.

The FDA’s latest decision “shows that the ATryn goats weren’t just a one-off”, says Jay Cormier, a lawyer at Hyman, Phelps and McNamara in Washington DC and a former scientific reviewer for the FDA. “The process can function for more than just one particular unique case.

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Featured image: Manu Palomeque/Alamy
Transgenic chickens are the latest animals engineered to produce ‘farmaceutical’ drugs.

note: The disease treated with Kanuma is Lysosomal Acid Lipase Deficiency (LAL-D).