Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


Transgenic cow programme targets lysosomal disease

Transgenic cows programme to target rare lysosomal disease

AgResearch's transgenic cows programme will start work to produce a therapeutic protein to treat the rare lysosomal storage disease Pompe disease, as soon as issues like intellectual property are sorted out. Their decision has won praise from the patient advocacy group, Lysosomal Diseases New Zealand, but concern has already been expressed by LDNZ that continued opposition from MadGE and other anti-GE groups could add further impediments.

Paul Atkinson, Science General Manager at AgResearch announced the addition of Pompe to their target list, at a conference of families and professionals convened in Auckland over the past weekend by LDNZ. The protein for Pompe disease will be one of four to be developed in the project recently approved by ERMA. The conference included one person affected by Pompe disease, among the more than 90 family members and professionals attending LDNZ's first ever conference.

Pompe disease results from an enzyme deficiency in the cells of the patient and this causes lysosomal storage of Glycogen in the muscles of affected patients. "The consequences of this are very severe and newborn babies with this disease die from respiratory problems or heart failure before reaching one year old", said John Forman, Chairperson of LDNZ and Executive Director of NZORD, the New Zealand Organisation for Rare Disorders.

"Pompe also has serious impacts on the health of children with the juvenile form and they are often respirator and wheelchair dependent in their teenage years. Adults have their mobility impaired by the disease and usually need CPAP respirator assistance when sleeping", said Mr Forman, "but treatment of this complex disease is now possible and a completely normal life should occur for future patients, thanks to advances in genetic modification technology".

The first trial of a genetically modified enzyme replacement therapy occurred in Holland a few years ago when protein was extracted from the milk of transgenic rabbits and successfully treated several small babies with Pompe disease. "This was the important proof of principle that was needed, and evidence that genetic modification was a necessary part of the process to produce the complex enzyme. The storage was cleared from the muscles and a seriously ill and disabled child returned to normal health", said Mr Forman.

Normal chemical drug production could not make a suitable therapeutic drug, but the transgenic rabbit project had limitations in providing enough protein to treat larger numbers of patients. The company that is continuing the production effort, Genzyme Corporation, is producing the enzyme replacement therapy by large scale fermentation of genetically modified Chinese Hamster Ovary cell lines in huge industrial plants, but this method has its own limitations. It has environmental considerations regarding disposal of large quantities of culture medium used in the production process, and it is also extremely expensive.

"Transgenics offers good therapeutic efficiency but much better cost effectiveness, and it is vital that both these issues are factored in", said Mr Forman. "We already have a scenario where another of the complex Lysosomal proteins has just now been made available for the treatment of Fabry disease, but the CHO cell production process means it is extremely expensive at about $250,000 per patient per year.

"Transgenic cows offer one of the best prospects for getting the right protein structures in the enzyme to make them effective in treating the patient, and at the same time producing them at a cost that should ensure availability to all patients in the world", said Mr Forman.

LDNZ hope that groups like MadGE will not make any further attempts to impede the AgResearch transgenic cows programme. "I wish they could understand that without these innovative experiments in production methods, effective and affordable treatments will not be available to patients", said Mr Forman. "If they do manage to stop the project, it will mean that instead of Pompe disease killing newborn babies and affected children and adults in the future, it will be the actions of ill-informed opponents like MadGE that will be responsible for the deaths by the halt they put on the technology".

© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Snail's Pace: Aucklanders Face Frustrating Commute Over Harbour Bridge

Journeys into Auckland's CBD took longer than usual as traffic banked up around the damaged Harbour Bridge. More>>


Statistics New Zealand: COVID-19 Sees Record 12.2 Percent Fall In New Zealand’s Economy

Gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 12.2 percent in the June 2020 quarter, the largest quarterly fall recorded since the current series began in 1987, as the COVID-19 restrictions in place through the quarter impacted economic activity, Stats NZ said ... More>>


Climate: Scientists Release ‘Blueprint’ To Save Critical Ecosystems And Stabilize The Earth’s Climate

A group of scientists and experts produced the first comprehensive global-scale analysis of terrestrial areas essential for biodiversity and climate resilience, totaling 50.4% of the Earth's land. The report was published in Science Advances ... More>>


MPI: Independent Review Launched Into Assurances For Safe Transport Of Livestock By Sea

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has launched an independent review of the assurances it receives for the safe transport of livestock by sea. MPI Director-General Ray Smith says Mike Heron QC has been appointed to lead the review, which is expected ... More>>


Computers: New Zealand PC Market Grows Nearly 40% Due To Work From Home Demand

COVID-19 had large impacts on demand for PCs as businesses prepared for lockdowns by purchasing notebooks to mobilise their workforce. In the second quarter of 2020, New Zealand's Traditional PC market experienced a 39.7% year-on-year (YoY) growth ... More>>


Ministry of Health: Public Transport Distancing Requirements Relaxed

Physical distancing requirements on public transport have been reviewed by the Ministry of Health to determine whether they are still required at Alert Level 2 (or below). The Ministry’s assessment is that mandatory face covering and individuals tracking ... More>>


NZHIA: New Zealand Hemp Industry Set To Generate $2 Billion Per Annum And Create 20,000 Jobs

A new report says a fully enabled hemp industry could generate $2 billion in income for New Zealand by 2030, while also creating thousands of new jobs. Written by industry strategist Dr Nick Marsh, the report has prompted calls from the New Zealand Hemp ... More>>


Stats NZ: One In 14 Employed People Report High Risk Of Losing Jobs

About one in 14 workers say they expect to lose their job or business by mid-2021, Stats NZ said today. A survey of employed people in the June 2020 quarter showed 7 percent felt there was a high or almost certain chance of losing their job or business ... More>>

ASB Quarterly Economic Forecast: NZ Economy Doing Better Than Expected, But Challenges Remain

August lockdown estimated to have shaved 8% off NZ’s weekly GDP, and 0.5% off annual GDP Economy now expected to shrink 5% (year-on-year) by end of 2020 Unemployment rate now expected to peak at 7.2% The latest ASB Quarterly Economic Forecast is less ... More>>


SAFE: Live Export Ship Carrying 5,800 New Zealand Cows Goes Missing In East China Sea

Livestock carrier Gulf Livestock 1 sent a distress signal at 4:45am NZT yesterday in the East China Sea. The area is affected by Typhoon Maysak. At 4pm a patrol plane spotted a lifeboat - with no people in it - and a man in lifejacket nearby. The ship ... More>>


FMA: Kiwisaver Fees Don't Match Performance

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) today published an independent report into the passive and active investment management styles [i] used by KiwiSaver providers. The FMA commissioned MyFiduciary to test the extent that KiwiSaver providers were ... More>>