Pharm Animals: A Drug from Goat’s Milk Is Just the Start

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I just want this all to stop. We all have to die sometime. I want to die naturally and not be kept alive by a mutated animal. We keep on messing with nature. It WILL bite back and already has for some of us.

My brother died in large part DUE to his chemo treatment. It taught me that unless it was a very straightforward case in which chemo was clearly going to help a cancer die (that is very occasionally the case) I would refuse conventional treatment.

Also almost every treatment I’ve had from Western Medicine has backfired on me. I could make a long list. Maybe I should. But not right now.

The only thing that ever helped me was a surgery I had for sleep apnea. It cured me. What I didn’t know at the time is that it was extremely high risk and no one told me. I was very lucky. I would not do it again.

On the subject of Pharm Animals:

The FDA just approved ATryn, the first drug made from a genetically modified animal. The drug is obtained from the milk of a GM goat, and it’s used to treat a blood-clotting disorder called hereditary antithrombin deficiency. Here’s a story from Dow Jones Newswires on the approval. (keep reading to see how this is the next big trend in pharma)

More from the NY Times


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About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters

18 Responses

  1. Does this stuff never end?

    When do we get brave enough to admit that we probably will never be able to beat nature at what nature does best – heal!

    Gentically modified this, and genetically modified that, and genetically modified the other thing….

    And, I just loved the clowns comment after the piece….Wondering why the concern….Another one of the biggest breakthroughs in moder medicine, if people will just get out of the way and let it come to fruition….

    What a clown…..This is madness!

    Sorry, but the Kings Hospital article really triggered me….I’m going for a late night walk….Gonna let some peace enter this soul of mine!

    Duane

  2. This is just so completely ludicrous. I have to wonder why people are so afraid of death. It’s part of life. Running from it won’t stop it happening.

    I’m with you on the cancer thing … except in a couple of very particular cases (such as early-detect prostate or colon cancer) I would refuse chemo treatment, and just let it happen. Life is too short to spend part of it dying in agony trying to save my life. I’d rather just die naturally.

  3. Arianna

    Now I’m very familiar with genetic engineering, and GMOS, and all the controversy. However, in my humble opinion, goats that have a gene inserted into the milk producing gene pathway, are not suffering any more than any animal that is being factory farmed. That’s not saying much, however.

    Because of the controversy, regarding mammalian GMOs, like this goat, there is a lot of work trying to get soybeans or other plants to produce protein therapeutics. There are some ongoing problems as plants do not process proteins the way that mammals do, and therefore do not form active therapeutics.

    I have no comment as to the validity of this drug. I just used to work with GMO mice, and each mouse was worth $5000, because way back then, it was new technology. Those particular mice, had luxury lives, and were greatly valued by the owners of the lab. This lab was dedicated to curing Sickle Cell anemia.

    This all will never seem odd to me, because I worked in genetic engineering as a scientist for so long. I’m used to these kinds of things being pretty common place, and I don’t have any strong feelings one way or the other about GMO mammals or plants. That being said!! I have never personally created a GMO plant or mammal. We worked with tissue cell lines which is what was used before these techniques on mammals were known.

    Basically, once fetal serum albumen was banned from bioreactors, it became too expensive to produce a drug, made from the tissue cells (usually Chinese Hamster Ovary Cells). It was just a matter of time, before tissue cells were replaced by GMO animals and plants.

    It’s kind of part of science, for good or for bad. And it’s going to keep happening, and it’s going to become more common place – forturnately or unfortunately, however you see it.

    I’m personally not freaked out about this and do have any strong opinion one way or another about it. If people can benefit from the therapeutic, if it an active drug, that is proven to be an active drug (unlike psychiatric drugs which are unproven), then I think they should go for it.

    I like to ask the question: If your child was dying, and the only way he or she could live, was to use a GMO product, would you do it?

    Best,
    Ari

  4. Arianna

    I forgot to mention that there is a widely used genetically engineered drug called “Humulin”.

    Humulin is a genetically engineered form of Insulin, which is actively saving lives. I doubt that any diabetics would want to go back to the old days when you needed to get insulin from dead animals.

    What I’m trying to say is that this is a common, genetically engineered drug which is used for people who have diabetes. It is being used on hundreds of thousands of people.

    Therefore, while creepy to people who are not scientists, genetic engineering is not all good, it’s not all bad.

    Best,
    Ari

  5. “Messing with nature is never good in my mind. We’ve already done it to a degree to which our planet and all it’s species will probably not survive.”

    My words. Today, science is 99% about defeating nature, messing with it. The day we’ve defeated nature all along is the day we’ve defeated ourselves. As we are (an inseparable part of) nature. If we like it or not. Science, at least the greater part of it, is humanity committing a very slow and painful suicide.

  6. Arianna

    I guess what I am saying is that Humulin has saved thousands of lives. It allows dibetetics to use something besides dead animals to get insulin. This removes the risk of catching diseases from animals, such as Mad Cow Disease.

    As far as people using diet and exercise to reduce diabetes – that is clearly not working. Teen agers are getting type 2 diabetes, rapidy and the phenomena is increasing almost exponentially.

    For their family doctor, I’m sure it’s frustrating to see obese teenagers with diabetes come in. But since you can’t force people to exercise, or eat right, you have to treat the disease that they have. Therefore, Humulin remains important in treating type 2 diabetes. It is projected that type 2 diabetes will go up, and so this drug is even more important now.

    There is also some scientific thought that that obesity may not be about eating too much, or exercising too little. There is research that is pointing to “inflammation response” as the source of obesity and the diseases of obesity. That is why, when some people diet and exercise, they remain obese.

    I don’t think making GMO animals is anything like torture.

    Here is torture: if you look at a standard dairy animal, with the huge udders, just requiring them to be bred for huge udders is torture. We have bred them to have such gigantic udders that some can hardly walk.

    Just as we have bred cows to create giganic amounts of milk over wild relatives, we have been geneticaly modifying animals since the dawn of civilization either directly or indirectly. I think GMO’s are just recent methods but an ancient idea.

    I know exactly what has been done, as I have genetically engineered mammalian tissue cells. It’s not that different for a live animal. You insert the gene you are interested in. It then, just comes out in the milk.

    Cloning and surrogate “parenthood” is an everyday occurance for the cattle that we wind up eating. It’s been around for a decade or more.

    Finally, I love this blog, and this is not sent at anyone directly, not you or anyone else. There seems to be a lot of black and white thinking about pharmaceuticals. It seems that people are entirely against pharmaceuticals.

    I believe that there are good pharmaceuticals out there. There needs to be oversight. There needs to be an actual FDA and not a figurative one. There needs to be a requirement that when a doctor prescribes a medication, that time is taken to go over the side effects in detail.

    In short, the patient needs to make an *educated* opinion, as to whether to take a drug or not. Right now, this is virtually never done. The FDA is made up of BigPharma folk, and is completely ineffective in keeping us safe from predatory companies.

    Let’s just imagine that, LipSX1, actually does lower people’s cholesterol. And let’s say, there is full disclosure of side effects. I don’t have a problem, with then, prescription of LipSX1.

    Many will say, why do you need to take an anticholesterolgentic ?The reasons are not as simple as diet and exercise. 80% of the cholesterol in your body is created by your body in the liver. As you get older, the amount of cholesterol produced can go up. Therefore for SOME – not the majority – not all – it might be a good option to avoid dying of a heart attack from out of control cholesterol.

    Most statins work by inhibiting an enzyme in the fat metabolism biosynthetic cycle. They inhibit an enzyme called HmGCoA reductase, and thereby interfere with the cholesterol synthesis, within the liver.

    My main problem with psychiatric drugs is that scientifically, they do not stack up. Most pyshciatric drugs have no known mechanism of action other than they do “something or another” to a brain chemical as opposed to LipSX1 which has an observable reaction in a biosynthetic pathway (your cholesterol goes down 70%!). Secondly, there is NO disclosure on how dangerous these psychiatric drugs are. There is NO disclosure upon how addictive they can become.

    So, my problem is not with pharmaceuticals, only bad ones and the truly bad ones are the psychiatric ones, which have no known mechanism of action. Clinical trials paid for by BigPharma is NOT science, and we need some actual science going on.

    When people are entirely against any new ideas, they get branded luddites. If they are against all pharmaceuticals, than they may be shaming people who are taking pharmaceuticals that work for them. Just because ours don’t work for us, does not mean that LipSX1 might be lowering someone’s cholesterol. How can we judge others?

    I’m not talking about any person, not you or anyone else. I’m just stating my opinion about the difference between carefully weighed opinions, about each and every case, and opinions that are black and white, on a consistent basis.

    In general, people who jump to black and white thinking are oftentimes considered not credible.

    It’s like crying wolf. If every single article about pharmaceuticals is “terror”, “horror”, “awful” then how shall we let others, outside of our communhity, know when a certain pharmaceutical IS an actual “horor”? Others may write us off as just being against pharmaceuticals, and thereby not talk to us at all, engage us in debate, or take us seriously.

    I’m only pointing out a phenomena of certain styles of effective debate, and just in general.

    I just hope that we can effectively engage a wider community, to be open minded, to have our ideals, but actively think about what kind of debate format we would like for ourselves.

    Best,
    Ari

  7. Thats the first picture I have ever seen where the goat looked cute.

    I agree with you on the chemo. Two grandma’s and my dad died from it.

  8. Arianna: “I don’t think making GMO animals is anything like torture.”

    I do agree, that it doesn’t look like “torture” at first sight.

    “Just as we have bred cows to create giganic amounts of milk over wild relatives, we have been geneticaly modifying animals since the dawn of civilization either directly or indirectly.  I think GMO’s are just recent methods but an ancient idea.”

    Yes. And that’s the problem, IMO: our “modern” (several thousand years old), western civilization, that is based on the idea that humanity is superior to nature (“the crown of creation”). It isn’t. And it knows.

    In order to keep up the illusion, that we are superior to nature, we fight nature in whatever shape it comes. Even in the shape of ourselves.

    The only, that ever could be superior to nature, is a machine, that is not created by man. The perfect machine. God. 2H2G is an excellent metaphor for humanity’s vain quest for this perfection – I love that novel! The answer is right there, in front of us, inside us. But we don’t know the question to ask. Or: we’re afraid to ask it. Because we then would have to face the fact, that we are (a part of) nature. Not superior to it.

    The answer is not “42”. The answer is the question to which the answer is “42”. Still, our civilisation is entirely built upon the delusion, that “42”, in the shape of technology and science, is the answer. Thus our civilisation actually is self-destructive.

    No, making GMO animals isn’t torturing individual animals. It is torturing, raping and traumatizing humanity, human nature, and nature in its entirety. And through this it also is torturing the individual animal.

    It’s not that I am completely anti-science. What I definitely am against is science without philosophy – or spirituality, if you like. I am against science, that fights nature, instead of co-operating with it. I am against science, that tells us to just take another pill whenever we’ve got a problem. There isn’t a (health) problem in this world that just pops up for no reason. Problems – or more precisely challenges – are presented to us to teach us lessons. About ourselves, about (our) nature. Civilisation was created to avoid the confrontation with these challenges. It does so by ignoring the challenges and creating problems to focus on instead. But we won’t survive as a species if we remain lulled in the delusion, that we can “problematize” our way out of having to confront the challenges.

  9. P.S.: We won’t survive as a species, and, unfortunately, we will take most of all non-human nature with us in the fall. It’s happening, right now, right here. In the shape of gene manipulation, for instance.

  10. Gianna: 2H2G refers to Douglas Adam’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

    On an overall level, I share that hope with you. It would really have to be a huge shift, though. A radical change. And I don’t see it happening yet. Although there are quite a number of people, who are becoming aware of the trap, modern, western civilization is, the majority seems to get deeper and deeper caught in it. With every scientific, technological progress, that is made, people get a bit more confirmed, that the delusion is real.

    Apropos of trauma: IMO the trauma I mentioned above, that we inflict on (our own) nature, does play a significant role as a cause of “mental illness”.

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