Blood protein made from GM Rice

Human serum albumin (HSA), which is produced in the liver, is the most abundant protein in human blood plasma. Albumin consists half of the blood serum protein. Albumin transports hormones, fatty acids, and other compounds, buffers pH, and maintains osmotic pressure, among other functions. The protein is often used in the manufacture of vaccines and drugs and is given to patients with serious burns, traumatic shock and liver disease. Demand for the blood protein is about 500 tonnes per year worldwide, and China has faced worrying shortages in the past. In 2007, a shortage in China led to price spikes and a brief rise in the number of fraudulent albumin medicines on the market.

Recently, the scientists at Wuhan University in China and colleagues from the National Research Council of Canada and the Center for Functional Genomics at the University at Albany in New York have developed rice method of producing HSA. They say that they can use rice to make albumin. When extracted from rice seeds, the protein is “physically and chemically equivalent to blood-derived human serum albumin (HSA). The findings could lead to a breakthrough in production of HSA, which typically comes from human blood donations.

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