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Increased funds for AgResearch Transgenics

NZORD welcome increased funds for AgResearch Transgenics

The New Zealand Organisation for Rare Disorders has welcomed news that AgResearch has secured significant extra funding for its transgenic cows research programme.

NZORD Executive Director, John Forman, said the decision of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology to give a big increase for the transgenic programme, is a significant vote of confidence in the science behind this project.

Transgenic animals are created with an additional gene designed to produce therapeutic proteins in the animal's milk. This is refined out to produce medicine for complex diseases in humans.

"A successful experimental trial in the Netherlands of a transgenic protein to treat a fatal form of muscular dystrophy, saved the lives of several small babies who are now active young children. The challenge now is to build on that example to develop more of these complex proteins to effectively treat serious diseases", said Mr Forman.

"Other methods of producing these proteins are extremely expensive and quality control and environmental factors can be an issue. This research is aimed at more stable protein characteristics and is likely to be at much more affordable prices", said Mr Forman.

"We are pleased that ill-informed court action by MADGE - mothers against genetic engineering - to stop the transgenic research, has not had a negative impact on the funding decision. We suspect those mothers' response would rapidly change if they discovered a severe or fatal rare disease in their family, and they were aware of the potential of this research".

Mr Forman added that many rare disease support groups, consisting of patients, mothers and fathers, are well aware of the AgResearch project, and strongly support these efforts by the scientists to treat or cure their diseases.

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