Medicines made from hamster cells
The US geneticist Ted Puck chose a peculiar field of study: Chinese hamsters (Cricetulus griseus). He took tissue from the hamsters’ ovaries and in 1957 produced cells, which could be multiplied in the laboratory as often as desired. This meant that hamsters no longer died for product testing. What Puck wasn’t aware of at the time, was that he had created the most important tool for the production of biopharmaceuticals.
It was the German scientist Max Delbrück’s student who laid the groundwork for today’s widespread production of biological medications. These include medicines such as antibodies, vaccines or hormones, which are not chemically synthesised, but produced from living cells – such as CHO-cells (Chinese Hamster Ovaries), as well as bacteria or yeasts.
Like a mini factory, the animal cells have the unique ability to produce complex proteins that are very similar to their prototypes in the human body. This leads to a particularly good efficacy and new treatment concepts against cancer, metabolic or inflammatory diseases.