UMass Researchers Announce Birth Of Genetically Modified Cloned Calves

d last year between ACT and Genzyme Transgenics Corp., the first product to be produced will be human serum albumin, a protein currently derived from pooled human plasma that is used therapeutically to maintain volume in blood vessels. Approximately 440 metric tons of plasma-derived albumin are used annually worldwide. Combining cloning and transgenics to produce recombinant human albumin may provide a safe and more cost-effective substitute for the plasma-derived product. An individual cloned transgenic dairy cow is expected to produce approximately 80 kilograms of recombinant human albumin annually.

Also, scientists newfound ability to endow cattle offspring with desirable genetic characteristics is being pursued as a method of producing modified cells for transplantation into human patients, according to Stice. Genetic modification may be used to reduce the chance of rejection of foreign organs, tissues, and bone marrow transplants, and produce therapeutic proteins and improve survival in cell transplants. These cells are currently being tested in animals for treating such disorders as Parkinsons disease. Many other disorders, such as Alzheimers disease, Huntingtons disease, and diabetes, could be treated in the future using this type of cell-based therapy, Stice said.

Robl and Stice make the desired changes in the genetic code, or DNA, of scores of somatic cells that are candidates to become the clones genetic donor. This process is more labor-intensive than it sounds: only one in a million cells have the gene alteration that the scientists hope to produce. These select cells are then grown in a petri dish and fused to cow eggs in which the original genetic material has been removed. The resulting embryos are implanted in surrogate mothers. The resulting offspring, all of one sex, will be identical to one another and carry the same genetic information.

The first cloned animals were born in th

Contact: Elizabeth Luciano
(413) 545-0444
University of Massachusetts at Amherst

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