Animals engineered with pinpoint accuracySubmitted by emalvini on Thu, 10/04/2012 - 12:07
Animals engineered with pinpoint accuracy
More accurate genetic modification has created allergen-free cow's milk and pigs that could serve as a model for atherosclerosis.
02 October 2012
Two genetically engineered farm animals reported today illustrate how far from Frankenstein’s stitched-together monster animal biotechnology has come. One of those animals, a cow, secretes milk that lacks an allergy-inducing protein because researchers accurately blocked its production using the technique of RNA interference1. And in pigs, scientists have used an enzyme called a TALEN2 to scramble a gene that would normally help remove cholesterol.
RNA interference (RNAi) and TALENs are more accurate at targeting the gene in question than are earlier genetic engineering techniques. For years, researchers tried to remove the allergy-inducing milk protein beta-lactoglobulin from cow's milk, which can cause diarrhea and vomiting in some toddlers. They tried replacing the gene encoding beta-lactoglobulin with a defective form, but this proved nearly impossible because the techniques available to introduce foreign genes into animal genomes were not precise, and misplaced genes failed to express themselves correctly.