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G-CSF immunity booster
hormone to boost growth of white blood cells

Pure research can be expensive and time consuming. And it's often the people who apply the results of the research that make the money, while the original researchers don't.

The human body produces proteins called Colony Stimulating Factors (CSFs) that stimulate and control the growth of blood cells. CSFs were first identified and purified by scientists at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne after 20 years work. Their discovery sparked a worldwide race to identify and then clone the gene for human CSF by inserting it in bacteria that would then manufacture the protein. A US company, Amgen, was the first to clone the T gene for making a CSF called G-CSF.

G-CSF stimulates production of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell that fights infection in our bodies. The manufactured protein was trialled in humans in 1986 and licensed for medical use in 1991.

Today, hundreds of thousands of patients are treated with genetically engineered G-CSF to boost their immune systems after chemotherapy or bone-marrow transplants.

Who Did It?
Key Organisations
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute : R&D

Amgen in USA : manufacture
Key People
Prof. Donald Metcalf, AC : team leader
R Stanley : researcher
T Burgess : researcher

Further Reading
'The colony stimulating factors --- discovery to clinical use'
D Metcalf
Proceedings of the Australian Academy of Science, April 1994.

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
Prof Donald Metcalf
Bright Sparcs - Donald Metcalf
Clunies Ross Citations
CSIRO Australia Advances
NOVA - Australian Academy of Science

Structure of the hormone now produced by genetically modified bacteria. Courtesy Professor Donald Metcalf
ATSE Powerhouse Museum