World population is now climbing to 7 billions in which 3 billion are non-pork eaters most known as Muslims or Islam believers who are not permitted to consume pork. This group of population consists of 2 billion worldwide whilst the other non-pork eaters are vegetarians whose believe is varied makes about one billion and Jews of about 14 millions.
Though they are not allowed to consume pork by religion restrictions but with new modern Science and Technology of food producing which is more complicated, it is very hard to avoid it. Pork is mixed and being part of almost all kinds of products, be food, non-food or even medicines in form of chemical components which could not be seen.
A product with any form of pig component is consumed by people worldwide either by not being aware or having no choice for the product is a necessity for life resulted in non-pork eaters have to consume it involuntarily which caused many cases of consumers violation. This particular problem seems to be gradually solved, not by non-pork eaters themselves but mostly by pork-eaters developers /inventors who realizes the problem and tries to correct it.
A good example of the product is drugs. This is due to pig tissue is very similar to human-being and pig is fast bred with low cost and small time. The popularity in using pig tissue to develop and produce drugs and medicinal products is high and resulted them being widely shelved in markets. The most known is gelatin from pig skin which is used to produce capsule both soft and hard. Many Hormone insulin enzymes and biological chemicals are extracted from pig organs be liver, kidney, pancreas, heart, spleen, intestine, skin, flesh, blood, or even brain, almost all organs in pig are used.
To look for a tissue of some other animals besides pig or from relate to replace pig tissue has been performed but not very popular due to its low quality but high cost such as gelatin or collagen from bone and tissue of cow, sheep, goat or fish. The problem here is that it is hard to find, high cost and its quality is low comparing with pig tissue. However, Scientists never stop trying to have a research to develop products of pig free due to huge market ahead waiting for the success.
Dr. Jian Liu, a medical chemical researcher from North Carolina University of Chapel Hill, North Carolina in the United States is interested in developing heparin widely used in medicine to prevent blood clot for surgery in particular. It is also used for asthma treatment. Heparin might be produced from cow lungs, but the most popular is heparin extracted from pig intestine.
Nowadays, demand in heparin is high and needs 700 million pigs per year. Most of the pigs are from China which is known for quality problem. In 2008, heparin from pig from China killed more than 200 patients worldwide resulted in calling from medical Doctors and Scientists for a replacement of heparin from pigs. There used to be a development of synthetic heparin some years ago but it turned to be very expensive of around 50-60 USD per dose or per one time use comparing with heparin from pig of around 5-35 USD. It is too expensive to be used.
Research and Development by Dr. Liu presented and published in one famous Science Journal named “Science” in end 2011 is to follow-up a research of photosynthesis of heparin by scientists before him which is to reduce chemical steps from 50 to 12 of purification procedures. Dr. Liu used genetic bacteria to work in cutting sulfate group from molecule by defining precursors, enzyme, and co-factor and then used genetic bacteria to work in all steps of work. This method is more advanced than chemical synthesis and much cheaper.
Bacterial Synthesis called chemo-enzymatic has competency to produce 40% higher yield of medicinal chemicals with a large cost reduction. The last substance received is Arixtra which resembles an insulin structure. It has been tested with animal and found to be safe with its qualifications similar to heparin. However, scientists need to test with human-being for its effectiveness and safety. And if the test is found to be satisfactory, it needs to be developed commercially in industry level to get more quantity with same quality as heparin produced in laboratory level which is very challenging. Dr. Liu confirmed this technology developing is a new door for development of pig-free medicinal products and if Industrial section sees its potential and future market, they would help support this research and development for more effectiveness in medicinal production.
Dr. Jeremy Turnbull, an expert in heparin from Liverpool University, England, supports this, saying if with full support from Industrial Sections, he believes that medicinal products from animals tissue especially from pig is to be finished within 10 years and it would help develop new cheaper medicines to cure many kinds of diseases, cancer in particular, which meets Industrial and business requirement.
This Chemical Reaction of enzyme having been newly developed will become a solution and way-out to solve problem of products from pigs which has been a social problem amongst pig-unwelcomed society. And if after a success of drugs market, this chemical substance is also to be a solution in food Industry and other industries as well and by then the future World would be a heaven for non-pork eaters.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Winai Dahlan
13th November, 2011