Diabetes :: Cloned cows to produce insulin in milk

Researchers in Argentina have moved a step closer to combating diabetes by cloning four genetically modified cows capable of producing human insulin in their milk.

Argentine researchers said they had created four cloned and genetically modified calves capable of producing human insulin in their milk, a step they said could cut the cost of treating diabetes.

The newborn Jersey heifers ? who the scientists have named Patagonia 1, 2, 3 and 4 ? will start producing the human hormone when they reach adulthood, said the biotechnology company behind the project, Bio Sidus.

To produce pharmaceutical products from cow’s milk, scientists insert the human gene of interest into an embryo before implanting it into a surrogate mother cow. In this case they used a gene for insulin. Once milk is obtained from the genetically modified cow, it will be purified and refined to extract the insulin.

“This model of a genetically modified cow is a model that allows us to produce large quantities of products at very low cost,” said managing director Marcelo Criscuolo, adding that insulin produced by cows would be at least 30% cheaper.

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