Researchers in New Zealand created a genetically engineered calf that would produce milk with a very little of a protein called beta-lactoglobulin (BLG).
BLG is a milk whey component which is the major cause of allergic reactions to cows’ milk particularly in infants and children.
“We generate a transgenic calf whose milk contained no detectable BLG and more than twice the amount of casein milk protein.”- the team of researchers from AgResearch and University of Waikato reported.
The process, called RNA interference is a technique relatively new for livestock used to shot down genes.
“Time will tell how widely applicable RNA interference will be in GM (generally modified) livestock. But this is certainly a milestone study in this field,” said Bruce Whitelaw, professor of animal biotechnology at the University of Edinburgh.
Daisy, the genetically modified tailless cow is 11 month old now. She was the only survivor out of hundred embryos was created by AgResearch.
Being tailless draw the researchers special attention to Daisy, because it is a rare congenial disease and it could be related to the genetic engineering.
An AgResearch spokeswoman said that further tests were underway, and that the next step would be to use Daisy for breeding, and to have her produce milk naturally. Daisy won’t have offspring until she is at least aged two.
Although general engineering of animals is still in its infancy, it has increased significantly in recent years. In progress in the field, new technologies emerge all the time.
These technologies bring with their ethical issues about the creation and use of genetically altered animals.
- GM cows produce hypoallergenic milk. (telegraph.co.uk)
- GM cows make ‘low allergy’ milk (bbc.co.uk)
- GM cow produces allergy-free milk (abc.net.au)