In another demonstration of Korea’s emerging biotech prowess, scientists at Chungnam National University have cloned pigs that have been genetically modified to produce an expensive cancer treatment. Professor Park Chang-sik and his team at the Research Center for Transgenic Cloned Pigs said that four female piglets are expected to express GM-CSF (granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor) in their milk next year. GM-CSF, marketed by Berlex Pharmaceuticals under the trade name Leukine, builds up white blood cells in patients with leukemia and anemia or those who have low white blood cell counts during cancer treatment. From Berlex, GM-CSF costs more than $100 per daily dose. According to an article in The Korea Times, "Park expected the GM-CSF produced by genetically
engineered pigs would be commercially viable in a decade after going
through a serious of clinical tests."
In this remarkable electron microscope image by Dr. Yorgos Nikas published recently in the National Geographic, a five-day-old embryo nestles inside a large gray cavity. Discussions about the use of embryonic stem cells focus on the status of the fertilized egg, but Nikas’ photo lets us see just what we’re talking about. Click on the image at left to see the full picture.