Rights: The University of Waikato Published 16 March 2010 Download

Dr Goetz Laible outlines some of the potential uses of transgenic cow technology. These include applications in biomedicine, in agriculture, to make novel food products, for increased animal health and for reduced environmental footprint. He gives more detail about producing human therapeutic proteins in transgenic cows.

DR GOETZ LAIBLE
A transgenic cow is a cow whose genome has been altered by an artificial method – what we also called genetic engineered. Transgenic cows can be used for quite a number of different applications because it’s a very universal technology, and you have access to many different genes from many different sources. An example is the biomedical area where we are involved with our projects mainly, and in this case, we are using parts of a human gene, then we are introducing these cows, and it allows these cows to produce these human proteins, which has therapeutic applications for treating human diseases now in their milk. And I think certainly at the moment, for some of these proteins, there is a shortage in the availability of these drugs.

An example would be Herceptin, particularly an example for New Zealand, which is very expensive and probably not available to many or all of the patients. Now, if we are able to produce it more economically in cows in large quantities, then that would make it more available for a lot more patients. I touched on the biomedical area, but of course, the technology can also be used for agricultural applications, for example, increasing production or increasing the health of these animals or making completely novel food products with these animals or even modifying animals so they have a reduced environmental footprint.

Acknowledgement:
Fatima Hadi