U.S. “bear product” linked to bile is synthetic

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2011:
HONG KONG–Trying to shake bad publicity and attract
investment, a leading Chinese bear bile producer apparently planted
news items with two Wall Street Journal subsidiaries in 2009 that
paralleled bear bile farming with the work of a U.S. company founded
to develop a synthetic analog of a hormone produced by North American
black bears.


The ploy appeared in non-bylined postings of October 26,
2009 to the China Real Time Report and Venture Capital Dispatch
blogs, both produced by Dow Jones, the financial news firm whose
flagship product is the Wall Street Journal. The identical postings
included an attribution to Associ-ated Press, but ANIMAL PEOPLE
found no trace of the items in the online archives of the Associated
Press. Credited to Associated Press, the Dow Jones blog postings
were redistributed on February 16, 2011 by the Asian Animal
Protection Network, coinciding with an application from the bear
bile producer Gui Zhen Tang of Fujian province to sell stock on the
Hong Kong exchange. Currently keeping 470 bears caged to produce
bile, Gui Zhen Tang hopes to raise $10.6 million with which to
expand to keep 1,200 bears.
The first half of the 2009 Dow Jones blog postings, reading
much like a press release, described the work of the Gui Zhen Tang
company. Gui Zhen Tang was said to have “raised $11 million from
Chinese venture firm Jiangsu Top-Bridge Capital to increase its
presence in the traditional Chinese medicine industry.”
Continued the blog postings, “Gui Zhen Tang isn’t the only
start-up building a business around black bears. Kalamazoo,
Michigan-based Aursos Inc. believes a hormone of the black bear will
be the key to preventing bone loss in immobile patients with
osteoporosis.”
Explained Aursos chief executive Donald Zinn, in a quote
taken from Venture Wire, yet another Dow Jones blog, “A person
loses bone mass being bedridden for five days, but a bear coming
out of hibernation for six, seven months comes out with the same
bone density.”
Asked ANIMAL PEOPLE of Aursos scientific advisory board chair
Seth Donohue and Aursos chief scientific officer, Ron Shebuski,
immediately upon receiving the AAPN item: “If Aursos wins the
necessary approvals to market a parathyroid hormone product extracted
from bears, where are the bears going to come from to produce it?”
Donohye and Shebuski both responded within minutes.
“It’s not extracted from bears,” e-mailed Donohoe. “The
gene for back bear parathyroid hormone is expressed in e. coli
[bacteria] in the manufacturing process, i.e. the protein hormone is
produced recombinantly.”
Added Shebuski: “No actual bears are used by Aursos. The
bone building hormone is made in a laboratory.”
Shebuski, a hunter, admits to having shot two bears, and
having eaten the meat. But he had no hesitation about saying he
“absolutely!” wanted to distance the work of Aursos as far from the
bear bile industry as possible.

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