China

Genetically engineered, low-lactose dairy calf bred in China

English.news.cn   2012-06-11 16:52:07

HOHHOT, June 11 (Xinhua) -- Scientists at a north China university say they have bred the world's first genetically-modified calf that will produce low-lactose milk in two years.

The calf, named "Lakes," was born on April 24 at a lab of Inner Mongolia Agricultural University. She is healthy and strong, lab professor Zhang Li said Monday.

In May 2011, Zhang and his research team extracted fetus fibroblasts from a Holstein cow that was 45 days pregnant and genetically engineered the fetus by transplanting an lactose dissolution enzyme into the cell.

The engineered fetus was then transplanted into the womb of a cow in July, and Lakes was born about nine months later, said Zhang.

"The enzyme can dissolve lactose -- the main sugar found in dairy products -- into galactose or glucose to ease digestive disorders among the lactose-intolerant people," he said.

Lakes may therefore produce safer milk for lactose-intolerant people, who account for nearly 60 percent of Chinese. Symptoms of the allergy range from rashes to diarrhea and other digestive disorders.

"Lakes, the calf, is a blessing for these people," said Zhang. "She will produce low-lactose milk after she is 25 months old and have delivered calves."

The same test was done on 14 heads of dairy cattle last year and five calves were born in April.

Only three of them carried the lactose dissolution enzyme but Lakes was the only one that has survived, said Prof. Zhou Huanmin, leader of the research team. "The other two died within 24 hours after birth."

Editor: Tang Danlu
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