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Transgenic Goats to Serve Mankind
January 29, 2008 21:11

Russian and Belarusian scientists have finished a programme, resulting in two transgenic goats, each cell of which carries lactoferrin-coding gene (lactoferrin is a human milk protein). Several years separate scientific think-tank from a horde of transgenic goats, which milk would be a base for biologically safe and highly effective pharmaceuticals of new generation.

Human beings consume lactoferrin with mothers’ milk since their first days. This protein protects a baby from viruses and bacteria until his own immunoprotection forms. Since not all mothers are now willing to feed their children with milk, human lactoferrin added to bottle feeding mixtures would protect health of little human beings. Child mortality from various gastrointestinal infections will drop. Moreover, lactoferrin has many other useful properties, including antineoplastic activity.

Unfortunately, female organism produces about 4-5 grams of lactoferrin per one liter of milk, moreover, donor milk can carry various dangerous viruses, such as AIDS. Thus, female donor milk is not a solution. Since transgenic microorganisms (which are common producers of many useful proteins), cannot produce lactoferrin, scientists decided to grow a transgenic animal, which produce human lactoferrin with its own milk.


The idea of transgenic animals producing human lactoferrin is not new – it appeared about ten years ago. Scientists started with genetic engineering, obtained good results and proceeded to making transgenic mice. Long and thorough work with over 5000 transgenic mice confirmed that lactoferrin gene can be inherited, and protein concentration exceeds that in female milk several times. “Champion” mice produced over 40 grams of lactoferrin per liter of their milk. Moreover, lactoferrin from milk of mice was absolutely identical to natural human lactoferrin. Further studies promise various treating agents, as well as many cosmetic products on the base of this protein.

Scientists plan commercial production of lactoferrin to be based on transgenic goat milk. A good she-goat produces about 1000 liters of milk during one lactation period. That is why many countries of the world successfully work on growing transgenic goats, which milk contains various useful proteins. Stumbling stones of working with goats are seasonal breeding, about six months of pregnancy and lack of dairy goat breeding in Russia.


Russian scientists have been cooperating with their colleagues from Belarus for several years, and this fruitful research resulted in two transgenic goats, born in late autumn of 2007. Now scientists are waiting for two things: goats should mature for new transgenic generation to appear. Second, no less important thing is additional funding for the project to continue. Financial support allows feeding animals, keeping them safe and warm, developing and testing new lactoferrin-containing agents and protecting them with patents.

Only coping with mentioned problems will help unique goats to make scientific breakthrough a successful business venture.

    Russian Science News

Kizilova Anna

Tags: Russian Scientists     

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