SEOUL, Aug. 24 (Xinhuanet) -- South Korean scientists said Wednesday that they have successfully cloned pigs that can produce a protein used as a supplement to cancer treatment.
The research was conducted by scientists from Chungnam National University in Daejeon, about 160 km south of Seoul, and MGenbio, a local biotech company, reported South Korean Yonhap News Agency.
The scientists injected a human GM-CSF gene into somatic cells of a pig and created 1,6000 cloned embryos by implanting those cells into unfertilized eggs with their nuclei removed.
Then, the embryos were planted into the wombs of eight surrogate sows which gave birth to six pigs, four of which were born successfully transformed, said Yonhap.
GM-CSF is a protein which promotes the growth of white blood cells. It is used in treating anemia and leukemia as well as in bone marrow transplants and chemotherapy.
When fully grown, the four cloned Land Race pigs will be able to secrete the protein GM-CSF in their milk, paving the way for mass production of the high-priced cancer treatment supplement.
Currently, one gram of GM-CSF is sold for as high as 600,000 US dollars.
However, according to MGenbio President Park Kwang-wook, it may take up to 15 years to commercialize the technology.
"Ten to 15 years may be needed to conduct clinical tests and win approval from the authorities," Park was quoted by Yonhap as saying. Enditem