Allergy-free milk made, according to a report in ABC News in Science, and AgResearch (NZ) 2 October 2012. A team of scientists in New Zealand have genetically modified a cow to produce milk that is free of a whey protein believed to cause allergies to cow’s milk in some children. The protein is named beta-lactoglobulin (BLG) and is also found in other ruminants’ milk but not in human milk. Scientists are unsure what it does in cow’s milk.
The research team first produced a “designer microRNA” – a short sequence of RNA that blocked the production of the BLG protein. To see if the microRNA worked the researchers first tested it in a cell culture and then in a mouse that had been genetically engineered to produce BLG protein in its milk. They then genetically modified cow cells to produce the microRNA and then used these to produce cloned calves. They produced 57 embryos, which resulted in 5 pregnancies, but only one live calf was born and it had a rare defect – no tail.
Rather than wait two years for the calf named Daisy, to be ready to breed and produce milk, the researchers have treated her with hormones to make her lactate. Daisy’s milk has no measurable BLG. However, the milk does have much higher levels of casein, which the researchers suggest would be good for cheese making. They won’t know this, or whether the milk will remain BLG free until Daisy is able to breed and produce milk naturally.
Stefan Wagner summarised the project: “People have long looked into reducing this enigmatic protein, or completely knocking it out, because there has been no definitive function able to be assigned to it. So, we developed this scientific model to investigate the effect of knocking BLG protein out on the composition and functional properties of milk, and to determine whether the absence of BLG produces cow’s milk that is hypo-allergenic.”
Editorial Comment: Would it have been smarter to find out what the BLG protein actually did for the cow, rather than just writing it off? It does give rise to an easy way to test which is better science – evolution or creation. Here’s the test:
On the basis of believing the Creator must have put BLG in cow’s milk for a purpose, and the first man and woman didn’t need to feed their children on cow’s milk since Eve came equipped with all that was needed, we therefore predict that the next generation of calves born to Daisy will not do as well if they are raised on the BLG-less milk. We will be interested to see any further results.
Using a microRNA to block the production of a protein is not an human invention. It is a process that occurs in cells as a way of regulating any type of protein production. However, it was clever of these scientists to be able to copy the process and apply it. In fact, did you notice how much design and manipulation went into this process of changing a cow that produces milk with BLG into one that doesn’t. First there was the “designer microRNA”, then the genetically modified mouse, then the genetically modified cow. Now we are back to our oft repeated point – since it took clever scientists to knock out a protein by copying an already existing system, it is foolish to believe that mindless chance/naturalistic processes made proteins and the microRNA mechanisms which regulate their production in the first place. This series of experiments reminds us that the only way to add genetic information to a living creature is by creative design and manipulation, i.e. to play creator. Where you see design it is not a cop out to conclude a Designer. (Ref. Prediction, bovines, genetics, cloning)
Evidence News 10 October 2012