On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration announced that they had approved a genetically modified pig whose body will not trigger allergies in humans.
FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn praised this innovation.
“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.”
The FDA claims that these modified pigs made by Revivicor, Inc. and known as GalSafe pigs, will not contain the compound alpha-gal, which is a sugar found on the surface of animal cells that many people are allergic to. An allergy to alpha-gel can often be triggered by a tick bite, which they further explained in a statement.
“In the U.S., the condition most often begins when a Lone Star tick bites someone and transmits alpha-gal sugar into the person’s body. In some people, this triggers an immune system reaction that later produces mild to severe allergic reactions to alpha-gal sugar found in red meat.”
The pigs are safe to eat for people allergic to the compound. Additionally, their organs and tissues are also suitable for transplants and other biomedical uses. This includes the blood thinner medication heparin, which is created using pig intestines.
Over the years, very few genetically modified animals have been approved by the FDA. In 2009, the agency greenlighted the first product created by genetically engineered animals called Atryn. The product is an anticoagulant that can prevent blood clots in patients who suffer from a rare disease known as hereditary antithrombin deficiency. It is derived using milk from genetically modified goats. Another therapy known as Kanuma, which is used to treat patients with a rare protein deficiency, is made with eggs from genetically modified chickens.