New Zealand Researchers Genetically Engineered a Cow
By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
A group of New Zealand researchers created a genetically engineered cow that produces milk free of β-lactoglobulin, a whey protein normally present in cows’ milk and also the cause of some human allergies.
How did the researchers genetically engineer the cow?
The researcher’s utilized two methods to create the genetically engineered cow, which they named Daisy. First, they conducted a nuclear transfer, which is a technique that was discovered during the cloning of the famous Dolly sheep; and the second technique that they employed was RNA interference, which is a technique used to ‘shut down genes’ in livestock.
The researchers inserted a DNA fragment into a cow somatic cell - this particular DNA element shuts down production of the β-lactoglobulin. After this process took place, researchers then transferred transgenic nuclei that became embryos and were implanted into the cows. This exercise resulted in a total of 57 cloned cow embryos.
The controversial process resulted in a total of five cow pregnancies; with one pregnancy being terminated to collect the cells and out of the four remaining pregnancies only one resulted in a calf. Daisy, the calf was born four weeks premature and without a tail. The project started in 2007.
While researchers have proven that they were capable of creating a cow that could produce milk free from β-lactoglobulin, there still remains a lot unknown. It would take years for hypoallergenic cow’s milk to ever reach the market place, if ever. Also, the whey-reduced milk may still contain traces of other allergenic proteins, which would in fact defeat the purpose of having a cow that could produce “hypoallergenic milk” in the first place.