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Cow genetically engineered to produce ‘hypoallergenic’ milk

A. Jabed, S. Wagner, J. McCracken, D. N. Wells, G. Laible

RESEARCHERS in New Zealand have produced a genetically engineered calf, capable of expressing ‘hypoallergenic’ milk. Using a technique called RNAi, the scientists were able to ‘knockdown’ the production of the protein β-lactoglobulin (BLG), which is not found in human milk and is thought to be responsible for the allergic reactions of some children to cows' milk. Currently, the dairy industry creates hypoallergenic formulas after milking, by removing certain proteins from the milk using digestive enzymes; however, the resulting milk may still contain residual allergens, have a bitter taste and the process itself is expensive.

In this study, the researchers genetically modified a cell from a cow to contain extra genetic material, known as miRNAs, which switch off the gene that produces the BLG protein. Then, using the same technology used to clone Dolly the Sheep (nuclear transfer), the modified nucleus of this cell replaced the nucleus in a bovine egg.This egg was subsequently placed in the womb of a cow. Of the 57 eggs transferred, only five pregnancies were still viable at day 65 of gestation, and only one produced a live, female calf. …

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