Millions of people are already using genetically engineered drugs and medicines to treat heart disease, cancer, AIDS, and strokes. In 1995 researchers tested more than 284 new gene-spliced medicines, an increase of 20 percent over the previous year. Many conventional drugs have been replaced altogether with the new gene-spliced substitutes. Genetically engineered human insulin has virtually eliminated the use of naturally derived insulin from cows and pigs for more than 3.4 million Americans suffering from diabetes. Erythropoietin, produced by Amgen, is used by nearly 200,000 people who are on kidney dialysis each year. The gene-spliced product stimulates the growth of red blood cells, reducing the need for risky blood transfusions. Genentech's tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) dissolves blood clots. Avonex and Betaseron, the beta-interferons, are used as therapies for multiple sclerosis. Pulmozyme (DNase) is used to treat lung congestion in cystic fibrosis patients.


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