Samples of alpha-1-antitrypsin, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1998
Alpha-1-antitrypsin is a protein in the body used to protect the lining of the lungs; its absence causes severe lung problems such as emphysema. Genetically engineered Alpha-1-antitrypsin can be used to supplement any deficiency. These samples of the protein were extracted from the milk of sheep genetically modified with human genes by PPL Therapeutics – their first medicinal protein product. In 1998 and 1999, clinical trials of the protein were carried out for its use as a treatment for the symptoms of cystic fibrosis – such as the over production of mucus in the windpipe, which makes breathing difficult and causes severe infections. However, the product was not commercialised.
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Glossary: genetic engineering
The techniques involved in altering the characteristics of one organism by inserting genes from another organism into its DNA.
Individual units, segments, or small quantities taken as evidence of the quality or character of the entire group or lot
Glossary: cystic fibrosis
A genetic disorder that affects the internal organs, especially the lungs and digestive system, by clogging them with thick sticky mucus. This makes it hard to breathe and digest food. Sufferers are usually treated with physiotherapy, exercise and medication.
Proteins are large organic compounds made of amino acids. They are essential to all living cells and organisms.