Bugs and bunnies. - Mostly, it is...
Jan. 28th, 2010
05:14 pm - Bugs and bunnies.
I'm unlikely to be the first person to have had this thought, but I haven't seen it elsewhere yet, so I'm sharing it.
In Holland, Pharming has set up a commercial rabbit milking operation. As you might guess from the name, they're a biotech company. In this case, they've modified rabbits to produce milk that contains commercially viable concentrations of C1 inhibitor, a protein that, in humans, plays a role in controlling inflammation. The idea is to extract the C1INH from the milk, and use it to treat people who don't produce enough of it, as well as to reduce transplant rejection rates and tissue damage resulting from strokes, heart attacks, or physical trauma.
Bio-engineered, self-replicating, mobile, semi-autonomous, bio-reactors that you supply with raw materials and then harvest useful product from. Kind of like the Vorkosigan butter bugs, only in this case, their transgenic creatures are cute.
I did find the line from the Times "The first commercial milking of rabbits, using specially adapted eight-teat machines, is already taking place at a farm in Holland." amusing for the implication that the major adaptation needed from the usual milking machines was the number of teats.
Story in National Geographic and The Sunday Times.
This post makes no statements about how I view this development ethically. That is intentional. If people want to discuss it with me, or would be interested in statements of that sort, I could be amenable to doing that in person or over e-mail.