Cows in New Zealand are being bred with a genetically engineered trait that lessens the chance of an allergic reaction in children. The genetically engineered cows produce less of the protein in their milk that typically causes reactions. Using the new proces,s cows produce anti-allergy milk.
Scientists modified the cows through the process known as RNA interference, which reduces the activity of certain genes without removing them completely.
According to the group’s researcher paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:
“In developed countries, 2-3 percent of infants are allergic to cows’ milk proteins in the ﬁrst year of life.”
The group notes that mothers are breastfeeding less in many parts of the world, which has led to a bigger need for cows’ milk.
According to Anower Jabed of the New Zealand government-run AgResearch company, the new process results in a 96 percent reduction in the protein beta-lactoglobulin (BLG).
Researchers acknowledge that processes exist to remove the protein; however, it is expensive and can lead to bitter tasting milk.
The ultimate goal would be to eliminate the protein all together, a process scientists believe can be accomplished with the help of a process known as homologous recombination.
The new RNA interference process may end up benefiting livestock as much as humans. Scientists hope to use the process to better immunity processes in animals, which could help them avoid common illnesses.
Further researcher is needed before the process in generally accepted. but it’s a move in the right direction when it comes to creating anti-allergy milk.