Genetically engineered mice yield human breast milk proteinJune 3rd, 2009 - 2:14 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, June 3 (ANI): Successful milking trials on mice have raised scientists’ hopes for producing human breast milk substitutes in near future.
This is the first time that mice have been genetically modified to produce lactoferrin by splicing human genes into their genome.
The ultimate aim of the Russian team behind this work, and of similar research projects in other countries, is to extract lactoferrin from the milk and use the protein to create healthier baby formula.
“Mouse milk is very protein-rich, and this can also translate into very high concentrations of transgenic protein,” National Geographic News quoted Patrick van Berkel, a senior director at the Danish biotech company Genmab, writing in an email.
Breastfeeding mothers typically produce 4 to 5 grams of lactoferrin per litre of milk.
Team member Elena Sadchikova, of the Institute of Gene Biology at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, revealed that the genetically modified mice churned out maximum concentrations equal to 160 grams per litre.
The researcher, however, warned that the finding should not be taken to mean that the mice themselves were about to become biotech dairy animals.
With a view to milking mice, the researchers anaesthetized the animals and used specially adapted pumps fitted to their tiny teats.
Van Berkel said if attempted commercially, “the scale at which this would have to happen would be a logistic and technical nightmare.”
The researcher added: “Larger animals such as rabbits, goats, or cows are required for commercial application.”
Netherlands-based biotech company Pharming is already commercially milking rabbits bred with human genes.
The rabbit milk contains a human protein used in a new drug treatment for hereditary angioedema, a rare blood disorder that can lead to severe swelling of body tissues.
“When you make a medicine, the volumes [of protein] you need are relatively limited. Whereas if you’re going to make human lactoferrin, which eventually you want to use, say, in infant formula, then you need very significant volumes,” said Pharming CEO Sijmen de Vries.
De Vries reckons that human lactoferrin from cow milk may be available for commercial use in two to three years.
The Russian team from the Institute of Gene Biology’s Sadchikova, however, favour transgenic goats.
“The most attractive advantage of a goat is that its pregnancy period is twice (as short as) that of a cow,” the researchers said, which means a herd could be established fairly quickly.
“A goat also reaches breeding age three times faster than a cow … has good resistance to illnesses, and does not share any diseases with a human being,” they add. (ANI)
- Rabbits milked for human protein to make lifesaving drugs - Dec 02, 2009
- Now, genetically modified cows that produce 'human' breast milk! - Apr 03, 2011
- GM cows produce 'human' breast milk - Apr 03, 2011
- Cloudy future for humanised cow's milk - Apr 06, 2011
- Coming soon, rabbit milk that may help treat heart patients - Jan 17, 2010
- Chinese shops to offer 'human breast milk' in 2 years - Apr 15, 2011
- Gandhi-preferred goat milk good for heart, health - May 19, 2011
- China to create alternative to human breast milk - Apr 15, 2011
- A glass of milk could contain painkillers, antibiotics - Jul 07, 2011
- China breeds first genetically engineered monkey - Oct 30, 2010
- Genetically engineered monkey could lead to Alzheimer's cure - Oct 31, 2010
- Tool to detect contaminants in cow, goat, human milk - Jul 06, 2011
- China cows produce milk like human breast milk - Jun 16, 2011
- Goat breeding: the new currency in the desert - Mar 03, 2011
- Scientists to inject human genes into goats, cows, and sheep - Apr 16, 2010
Tags: baby formula, biotech company, blood disorder, body tissues, breast milk substitutes, dairy animals, gene biology, human breast milk, human genes, human protein, lactoferrin, maximum concentrations, milk protein, mouse milk, national geographic news, pharming, rare blood disorder, russian academy of sciences, russian team, tiny teats