Squeeze This Rice, and It Drips Blood

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.


RelatedGenetically modified rice created to produce human blood (Telegraph UK)

15 responses to “Squeeze This Rice, and It Drips Blood

  1. My first reaction to this story is genetically modifying a plant to produce a blood protein is nothing short of astounding. I would have never thought a plant could produce something like this. But as I read on in the article I begin to think about the many things that could go wrong. With that said I hope Professor Daichang Yang and his colleagues continue to test and pursue this seemingly unattainable outcome.

  2. Donations of blood are not really in short supply. There are plenty of humans willing to give blood, if it is perhaps more convenient. I think this is an excuse to go where it is not really necessary to go…

  3. Fortunetly we have the Chinese government to protect us by carrying out a through battery of scientific tests to assure us that this new GMO is safe to be released into the world. Espically important since such a vast population depends on rice for their lives, yes that is reasuring. I am sure that they will follow Americas lead in this and not allow any GMO lose that might cause a human or environmental diseaster, NUTS! I am beginning to think that we should take all the government leaders, top scientests and business and banking leaders and put them in the insane asilims and put those people from the aslims in their places.

    “from that moment he declared everlasting war against the species, and more than all, against Frankenstein who had formed him and sent him forth to this insupportable misery.” Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

    Doc Blake

  4. LOVE the graphic!!!

  5. That leaves me to wonder if indeed there is a shortage of blood donations from healthy individuals, if the requirements for donation couldn’t be loosened. I’m 4’9″ tall, weigh approximately 95#, and I’m in very good health. I am not allowed to donate because the liter that would be removed from my system would be more than what my system could handle. If a policy of taking a lesser amount from smaller donors were developed, maybe I could be a part of a solution. The other sad fact: my blood type is O-negative.

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