MILKING SHEEP to obtain the material for lifesaving drugs may come to seem no stranger than keeping flocks to provide the basis for Roquefort cheese, if experimental molecular biology procedures already under way are adopted someday. At the 63rd Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association, held in Dallas, Tex, investigators discussed the use of recombinant DNA technology to combat cardiac (and other) disorders more directly than was ever possible before.
"At the present time," says Robert Roberts, MD, chief of cardiology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Tex, "the Food and Drug Administration has approved only about 10 drugs that are made by recombinant DNA. The agency estimates that, by the year 2000, more than 50% of all approved drugs will be made by this method."
(A spokesman for the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association estimates that there are currently approximately 3500 approved "chemical entities [drugs]." He said 104 recombinant drugs await