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Genetically Modified Cows to produce Human Milk

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Apr 05, 2011
4.8 / 5(4 Ratings)

Highlights of the Article: 


Human Milk can now be produced by Genetically Modified Cows.  The genetically modified cows will produce milk that have the same properties as human breast milk. The "Human" Cow milk could be a alternative to human breast milk and baby formula in the future since it will 5 -10 years before any such products are available on the market.   The question still persists whether genetically modified milk will be safe for human consumption.

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Now, genetically modified cows that produce 'human' milk!

 

London, Apr 3 (PTI) Scientists have for the first time created genetically modified cattle that produce milk with the same properties as human breast milk, a breakthrough that they claim will boost the nutritional value of cow milk.

 

A team, led by the China Agricultural University, has successfully introduced human genes into 300 cows to produce "human" milk which is known to contain high quantities of key nutrients that can help to boost the immune system of babies and reduce the risk of infections.

 

The transgenic animals are physically identical to ordinary cows, say the scientists. According to them, milk from herds of genetically modified cows could provide an alternative to human breast milk and formula milk for babies, which is often criticised as being an inferior substitute.

 

Prof Ning Li, the scientist who led the research and director of the State Key Laboratories for AgroBiotechnology at the China Agricultural University, has said their work has shown it was possible to "humanise" cows' milk which would be as safe to drink as milk from ordinary dairy cows.

 

"The 'human-like' milk will provide much higher nutritional content. It tastes stronger than normal milk. We aim to commercialise some research in this area in coming three years."For the 'human-like milk', 10 years or may be more time will be required to finally pour this enhanced milk into the consumer's cup," 'The Sunday Telegraph' newspaper quoted him as saying.

 

In their research, the team used cloning technology to introduce human genes into DNA of Holstein dairy cows before the genetically modified embryos were implanted into surrogate cows. They said they were able to create cows which produce milk containing a human protein called lysozyme.

 

Lysozyme is an antimicrobial protein naturally found in large quantities in human breast milk. It helps to protect infants from bacterial infections during their early days. They created the cows that produce another protein from human milk called lactoferrin, which helps to boost the numbers of immune cells in babies. A third human milk protein called alpha-lactalbumin was also produced by the cows.

 

The scientists have also claimed they have boosted milk fat content by 20 per cent and have also changed levels of milk solids, making it closer to the composition of human milk as well as having the same immune-boosting properties.

 

"Our study describes transgenic cattle whose milk offers the similar nutritional benefits as human milk. The modified bovine milk is a possible substitute for human milk.  It fulfilled the conception of humanising the bovine milk," Prof Li wrote in the 'Public Library of Science One' journal.

 

However, critics have questioned the safety of milk from GM animals. Helen Wallace, Director of biotechnology monitoring group GeneWatch UK, said: "We have major concerns about this research to genetically modify cows with human genes. There is a question about whether milk from these cows is going to be safe from humans." PTI MOT

 

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