Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and NationalInstitutes of Health report that a foreign protein has beenproduced in pig's milk.

In todayLs Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, theresearchers said transgenic pigs with a mouse gene encodingthe mouse milk whey acidic protein (WAP) synthesized morethan 1 gram of WAP per liter of milk.

The authors said pigs are an economic transgenic animalbecause transgenic pig production requires one-sixth thenumber of animals and one-half the time of cows, goats orsheep.

Several companies, including GenPharm International,Pharmaceutical Proteins Ltd. and DNX Inc., are developingtransgenic animals as protein production factories.

Jonathan MacQuitty, president of GenPharm, told BioWorld thatthe PNAS article is the first published report of foreign proteinproduction in pigs' milk. Other animals shown to produceforeign proteins in their milk include mice, rabbits, sheep andgoats.

MacQuitty does not consider pigs to be the ideal commercialbioreactor because pigs produce only about 3 percent as muchmilk as cattle. In addition, not all transgenic pigs can sustainmilk production. However, said MacQuitty, pigs are easier tomake transgenic than are cows. -- Carol Talkington Verser,Ph.D.

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