ANI | TopNews
Two researchers have engineered a genetically modified cow that produced milk less likely to cause allergic reactions. The modified cow produced milk is without beta-lactoglobulin – a major whey protein of cow and sheep’s milk, to which some people are allergic.
The study has been labelled a “milestone” by one scientist, but some campaign groups say it raises ethical concerns. There are important differences between a woman’s breast milk and cows’ milk, such as beta-lactoglobulin, which is found in milk from cows but not people.
“It is not surprising that is constitutes a major milk allergen,” the BBC quoted the two researchers from the University Waikato in New Zealand as saying. The instructions for making the beta-lactoglobulin protein are contained in genes in the cow’s DNA.
The scientists added extra genetic material to disrupt the manufacturing process using a technique called RNA interference. The resulting calf was born without a tail, however, the researchers say that is “unlikely” to be because of the genetic modification.
It has not yet become pregnant and produced milk normally so the scientists used hormones to jump-start milk production. “All milk samples from the transgenic calf were devoid of any detectable beta-lactoglobulin,” they said.
The researchers concluded that the technique was an “efficient tool” for modifying livestock. The study has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.