By Cathryn Wellner
Put away the Halloween costume. This is not a vampire joke. Chinese scientists at Wuhan University have been working on a genetically modified rice that can yield a human blood protein called human serum albumin (HSA).
Normally HSA protein is manufactured by the liver and harvested the same way any other blood ingredients are, through donations. In heavy demand for both medicinal (severe burns, cirrhosis of the liver, hemorrhagic shock) and laboratory (vaccines, drugs, cell cultures) uses, HSA is in perennially short supply.
China has experienced both chronic shortages of HSA and problems with tainted blood supplies. So Professor Daichang Yang, a plant biotechnologist, and his colleagues set to work to develop a rice that could carry the albumin gene.
According to Nature News, HSA-yielding plants such as potatoes have been used for the last two decades, but they have been too high cost and low yield for commercial use. Rice seeds, with their high protein content and high yields, are proving to be attractive carriers of the HSA gene.
Read the full post at Care2.com.
Related: Genetically modified rice created to produce human blood (Telegraph UK)