Saturday, January 19, 2008

human milk proteins produced in plants

There are a number of ways to genetically engineer human milk proteins. One way is cloning of animals to produce the human milk component in their mammary glands. A number of companies around the world are involved in that endeavor, such as Pharming of the Netherlands. Another way to create a genetically engineered human milk protein is through cell culture. Agennix of the US is using this method to create their recombinant human lactoferrin. There is a third way, and that is to genetically engineer human milk proteins in plants. Ventria Bioscience is working on the production of human milk proteins through plants. Their field trials created quite the stir in California with Green Peace protesting their fields of genetically engineered plants. Environmentalists believe that what these specialized plants produce will be used in the pharmaceutical industry. Lets look at their patent. Their patent is called, "Expression of human milk proteins in transgenic plants," #6991824 filed in 2002.
"It would therfore be desirable to provide a plant-derived infant formula having beneficial levels of one or more proteins normally present in human milk, while largely avoiding costly recombinant protein production techniques and safety issues. More generally, it would be desirable to provide a nutritional food extract that may be readily and inexpensively obtained in large quantities, can be delivered by itself as a nutraceutical or added to processed foods, for supplying one or more human milk proteins beneficial to human health."
The intent is to provide such human milk proteins as lactoferrin, to the infant formula, supplement, and food industries. Genetically engineered lactoferrin is already in a variety of products bought by consumers: mouthwash, toothpaste, whey products, supplements. One way or another, people will get human milk. Of course it won't be through breastfeeding.

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