Using genetically modified plants or animals to produce pharmaceuticals, also called as Gene Pharming; part of Molecular Farming
This new application of genetic engineering takes genes, primarily of human and animal origin, and introduces them into plants or farm animals to inexpensively produce medically important substances. The premise is using plants as efficient chemical factories for producing antibodies, vaccines, blood proteins, and other therapeutically valuable proteins.
Plants. While conventional medical plants are used for their natural substances, GM plants for molecular pharming can produce novel substances. The first pharming projects are on the cusp of commercial use. Usually, small plantings are enough to produce the needed substances. Therefore, molecular pharming is done in greenhouses or on small, controlled outdoor plantings.
Animals. The production of pharmaceuticals in GM animals is another area of intensive research. The preferred bioreactor is the lactiferous gland. So far, more than 20 pharmaceuticals have been synthesised in the milk of mammals. Pharmaceutical agents can also be produced in chickens’ eggs, blood, urine, and sperm. Since 2008 the first drug produced by transgenic animals is availiable in the EU. Antithrombin is a substance that blocks blood clotting and can be extracted from the milk of genetically modified goats.