Myelin Basic Protein in cows milk

BioPharming- Transgenic cows producing human Myelin Basic Protein (hMBP, or MBP) in NZ.

The approval for the use of transgenic cows producing the potential anti-multiple sclerosis drug (MBP) in New Zealand has generated a lot of discussion. Transgeneic cows are well covered by Biotech Learn, and there are information sheets on therapeutic proteins and modified milk

The techniques used here would be to clone a human gene (e.g. MBP, or Casein), ligate it into a vector, transfer this to animal cells and then create a transgenic animal. To clone the gene she will would have used techniques involving restriction enzymes, agarose gel electrophoresis, and ligation. DNA sequencing would be used to confirm it was correct.

Some questions worth considering when researching this topic:

Why use transgenic cows to make MBP?

How were the cows, or embryos, made?

Why not keep the cows in Scotland?

What are the potential benefits?

Is the an alternative source for clinical trials? For example,
(i) could the protein be purified from human brains? What are the risks to patients involved in clinical trials if this were done?
(ii) is it feasible to chemically synthesize enough of the whole protein
(iii) or to make it in transgenic bacteria or yeast?

What systems are in place to prevent escape? If they do escape are they likely to cause harm?

Therefore what are the risks or biological implications for New Zealand of these cows?

Are the risks of transgenic animals different from field releases of GM plants for human consumption?

Starting resources

Transgenic cows

Recent news -A cow produced in NZ 'Daisy' makes low allergy milk. Two views: Holy Cow! 'Daisy' Makes Hypoallergenic Milk (LiveScience, 2012), GM cow: low allergy milk, but no tail (3News, 2012, with video).

The NZ Herald online has a feature section on 'Genetic Engineering', including an older article reporting transgenic cows.

The Greens view- a Greens Press Release on MBP producing cows (2001).

A summary of the various views (2001)

The regulatory bodies (ERMA) view and decision (2002) and news about the latest applications (2008)

A BBC report on the potential benefits of the animals and

NZ Royal Commission on Genetic Modification report particularly Chapter 9 Medicine.

Status of transgenic animals from food standards Australia (2003).

An overview from the Listener. Examines the Royal Commissions findings with opinions both for and against. See also two letters to the editor and a Scientists reply
Listener August 11-17 2000 Life in New Zealand. pg 18-22. Find this in a library.

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