Genetically modified cichlids could be put to use as bioreactors for the production of human proteins that can be used to clot blood in accident victims suffering blood loss, or haemophilia sufferers.
According to a report in today's New Scientist, Norman Maclean, a scientist from the University of Southampton, has been working with AquaGene of Florida to produce genetically modified fish capable of producing human coagulation factor VII.
Human coagulation factor VII promotes blood clotting and is usually produced using GM hamster cells, says New Scientist. However, using mammalian cells is more expensive - a single injection could cost $10,000 to produce - and it's hoped that fish will be able to produce the protein more cost effectively.
AquaGene has now produced several lines of genetically modified tilapia capable of producing human factor VII.
At the moment the GM tilapia can produce similar levels of the protein to those found in normal human blood, however, it's hoped that within a year they will be able to produce ten times the amount by perfecting the GM techniques.