FDA approves genetic alteration of pigs in bid to block allergies, organ rejection

In a rare move, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved on Monday the genetic…

In a rare move, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved on Monday the genetic alteration of domestic pigs for potential use in food and human therapeutics.

The intentional genomic alteration is specifically meant for a line of pigs called GalSafe pigs. These pigs will be genetically altered to not have alpha-gal sugars on the surface of their cells, a substance that can cause mild to severe allergic reaction in people with Alpha-gal syndrome, according to a statement by the FDA. 

Individuals with Alpha-gal syndrome develop allergic reactions to red meat found in beef, pork and lamb. The FDA notes in its report that this syndrome mostly occurs when someone is bitten by a Lone Star tick, triggering an immune response to the syndrome.

Though genetically engineering animals has been approved in the past, the practice has never been approved for use in both food and medicine until now, Stat reports.

“Today’s first ever approval of an animal biotechnology product for both food and as a potential source for biomedical use represents a tremendous milestone for scientific innovation,” FDA Commissioner Stephen HahnStephen HahnFDA authorizes first fully at-home, over the counter COVID test FDA approves genetic alteration of pigs in bid to block allergies, organ rejection CDC director accepts advisory panel’s recommendation, clearing the way for vaccinations to begin MORE said. 

“As part of our public health mission, the FDA strongly supports advancing innovative animal biotechnology products that are safe for animals, safe for people, and achieve their intended results. Today’s action underscores the success of the FDA in modernizing our scientific processes to optimize a risk-based approach that advances cutting-edge innovations in which consumers can have confidence.”

The FDA said that GalSafe pigs could be used to create human medical products such as blood-thinning drugs and tissue transplants; however, the pigs have not been evaluated for use in human transplants.

According to the FDA, the developer of these pigs does not intend to sell the product in supermarkets, but will make it available by mail-order.

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