Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Scientists Genetically Modify Cows to Produce 'Human' Milk

Scientists have introduced human genes into 300 dairy cows to

produce milk with the same

properties as human breast milk, The Telegraph reports.

The scientists behind the research have modified cow milk in

an attempt to provide an

alternative to human breast milk and baby formula, as human

milk contains key nutrients

that can reduce infections and strengthen the immune system.

While the dairy product is likely to receive backlash from

opposers of genetically modified

foods, scientists such as Prof. Ning Li, who led the research

and is director of the State Key

Laboratories for AgroBiotechnology at the China Agricultural

University, believes it will be

safe to drink.

"The milk tastes stronger than normal milk," Li told The Telegraph.

"We aim to commercialize

some research in this area in coming three years. For the

'human-like milk,' 10 years or maybe

more time will be required to finally pour this enhanced

milk into the consumer's cup."

Using cloning technology, scientists brought human

genes into the DNA of Holstein dairy

cows before genetically-modified embryos were

implanted into surrogate cows.

During their research, scientists created cows

that produced milk

with a human protein called lysozyme, an antimicrobial protein

naturally found in human breast milk. They were also able to

create cows with lactoferrin and alpha-lactalbumin, other

human milk proteins that boost the immune system.

The research scientists claim they have boosted milk fat content

by 20 percent and have changed the levels of milk solids to

make it closer to the composition of human milk, carrying the

same immune-boosting qualities.

"Our study describes transgenic cattle whose milk offers

the similar nutritional benefits as

human milk," Li wrote in the "Public Library of Science One,"

a peer-reviewed science journal.

"The modified bovine milk is a possible substitute for human milk.

It fulfilled the conception

of humanizing the bovine milk."

There are opponents to genetically modified foods, however,

who feel more research should be

done before it can be considered safe.

"There is a question about whether milk from these

cows is going to be safe from humans and

it is really hard to tell that unless you do large clinical trials

like you would a drug," Helen Wallace, director of

biotechnology monitoring the group

GeneWatch U.K. told The Telegraph. "So there will be

uncertainty about whether it could be

harmful to some people."

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/04/03/scientists-genetically-modify-cows-produce-human-milk/#ixzz1If2PnEVX

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