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Chinese Scientists using Gene editing to create cows resistant to Tuberculosis
February 27, 2017

Chinese scientists have created cows resistant to tuberculosis.

In a paper published in Genome Biology, researchers at Northwest A and F University in Shaanxi, 
China, used gene editing to insert tuberculosis resistance into a cow’s genome.

“We were then able to successfully develop live cows carrying increased resistance to tuberculosis,” Yong Zhang, lead scientist, told Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News.

“Importantly, our method produced no off-target effects on the cow genetics, meaning that the CRISPR technology we employed may be better suited to producing transgenic livestock with purposefully manipulated genetics.”

CRISPR-Cas9 is a form of gene editing and it is being heralded as the next big thing in health and agriculture.

It allows researchers to precisely delete or insert genes in an organism’s DNA without disturbing other portions of the genome.

Monsanto has described the technique as the “biological equivalent to the ‘search and replace’ function in computer word-processors.”

Many agricultural scientists are excited about gene editing because it could reduce the time and cost of developing crop traits, but the technology also shows promise in livestock.

Scientists with a Minnesota company have used gene editing to develop dairy cattle without horns, which would make de-horning of calves unnecessary.

The Chinese discovery, if ever commercialized, could benefit western Canadian producers.

In the past, TB-infected elk have transmitted the disease to cattle near Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba.

Last fall there was an outbreak of TB in Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan. About 50 farms were placed under quarantine to prevent further spread of the infectious disease.

The Chinese scientists said they used a new version of CRISPR to insert genes into cattle, which reduced “off target” genetic effects.

They tested 11 calves born with the inserted genes and determined that white blood cells in the animals had increased resistance to TB.

However, the process involves inserting a gene from another organism, so the resulting cow would be transgenic.

Getting a transgenic cow to market could be challenging because of the public backlash and regulatory challenges.


Source: Western Producer


Summer 2018