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Medicine Biotech Science

Human Blood Protein (HSA) From GMO Rice 89

eldavojohn writes "Wuhan University researchers working with the National Research Council of Canada and the Center for Functional Genomics at the University at Albany announced that they have genetically modified rice to produce a medically useful protein chemically identical to human serum albumin. This protein is used to treat burns, traumatic shock and liver disease at a global demand rate of 500 tons each year. Normally, this would be extracted from blood donations, but now you can just grow rice and extract it at a rate of 2.75 grams of protein per kilogram of rice. After testing on rats with liver cirrhosis, the same response was shown as the protein from blood. This is important for China after a spike in demand and lack of supply lead to fake albumin medicine flowing through Chinese hospitals. Worried about these GMO crops cross-pollinating regular crops? The researchers referred to a study indicating 'a very low frequency (0.04-0.80%) of pollen-mediated gene flow between genetically modified (GM) rice and adjacent non-GM plants.' Nature has a slightly more detailed article with a reference to the peer review publication."
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Human Blood Protein (HSA) From GMO Rice

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  • by Amouth ( 879122 ) on Monday October 31, 2011 @08:10PM (#37902010)

    just for scale - using Wikipedia's numbers, in 2009 world wide rice production was 1,494,734,140,000 pounds so this would only account for ~0.024% of global production.

    Also if you note the rice production in the US it is significantly smaller than world wide production but still larger than what is needed for this - it also would allow for it to be isolated from main production areas so you don't have just a high chance of the gene making it to the normal food supply.

    doing GM crops in isolated non food production areas would allow the US to have a major export and not risk the world wide food production.

    While i'm not for or against GM crops over all - i am against it in the Food supply or used haphazardly (even glare at Monsanto)

  • Re:Rice, anyone? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 31, 2011 @08:29PM (#37902156)

    If this method of production turns out to be cost-effective, I'd think that demand could go way, way up from 500 tons/year.

    Albumin isn't just used in burns/liver disease, it's actually a very powerful tool for fluid resuscitation. When you give someone normal saline (or any other crystalloid fluid), most of the fluid you administer ends up leaving the vasculature (where it is most useful, as circulating fluid) and distributing rather uselessly to the intracellular and interstitial spaces of the body. Colloids such as albumin, packed red blood cells, and hespan (a synthetic colloid) are "locked in" to the vasculature through the oncotic force of proteins that are unable to cross the capillaries. The only reason that normal saline is the go-to fluid over albumin for circulatory resuscitation is cost. If you're in the ICU and tanking, or just can't handle extravascular fluid (e.g., severe liver disease) then you get the expensive stuff.

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351