Rabbit’s Milk Medicine

Dutch biotech firm petitions EU to approve a drug made with the milk of genetically engineered rabbits.

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Researchers at a Dutch biotech firm have developed a drug made by extracting a milk protein from genetically-engineered rabbits. The drug, dubbed “Rhucin,” was created to treat hereditary angioedema, a potentially fatal condition caused by deficient levels of C1 inhibitors. Such therapeutic proteins cannot be synthetically engineered, which is why scientists modified rabbits to carry human C1 inhibitors. Representatives from Pharming Group submitted Rhucin to the European Medical Agency—the EU’s drug safety group—for market approval. If approved, the company will begin milking more than 1,000 rabbits to produce the protein. The EU won’t deliberate on the drug until later next year, and it has not yet been submitted for commercial approval in the US.