(ORDO NEWS) — The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – perhaps the most authoritative organization in its field – has authorized the use of a genetically modified pig strain for the food and medical industries. In a press release issued by the FDA, it is noted that this is the first time that farm animals have been approved for two areas at once.
The GalSafe GM pig line was developed by the biomedical company Revivicor. Unlike GM salmon, which was approved by the FDA several years ago and grows much faster than normal, GM pigs are quite common. With one exception: galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose (“alpha-gal”) is not produced in their bodies. This disaccharide is widespread in nature and is found in all mammals, except for humans and other anthropoids: our common ancestors lost the GGTA1 gene necessary for this.
As a rule, the body quickly neutralizes the alpha-gal molecules that come with food, but sometimes they can lead to the development of an acute food allergy – “alpha-gal syndrome”. GalSafe GM pigs are expected to be completely safe on this side, although no formal trials have been conducted on humans with such allergies. But the animals have passed all the necessary safety tests, without which the developers would not have received permission from the FDA.
Revivicor expects GalSafe GM animals to become not only a safer alternative to regular store-bought pork, but also have medical applications. Experts are developing technologies for their use to obtain drugs such as heparin, which is usually isolated from animal tissues: thanks to GalSafe, people with alpha-gal syndrome can also use them.
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