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Crop Biotech Update

Enzyme-Producing GE Chicken Gets Approval in the US

December 16, 2015

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved a chicken that has been genetically engineered to produce the drug Kanuma (sebelipase alfa) in its eggs. Kanuma is a recombinant human enzyme marketed by Alexion Pharmaceuticals, meant to replace faulty enzyme in people with a rare, inherited condition that prevents the body from breaking down fatty molecules in cells.

The drug is designed to treat, lysosomal acid lipase deficiency that causes fat to accumulate in the liver, spleen and vasculature. A form of the disease that strikes infants is quickly fatal. A second form that affects older patients causes liver enlargement, fibrosis and cirrhosis, as well as cardiovascular disease.

Kanuma joins the growing group of ‘farmaceuticals' on the US market, which includes genetically modified goats that produce an anticoagulant called ATryn (antithrombin) in their milk, and transgenic rabbits producing a drug for treating hereditary angioedema. Unlike the genetically engineered AquAdvantage salmon that was approved by the FDA previously, the transgenic Kanuma producing-chickens are not intended to enter the food supply.

For more details, read the news article in Nature.