Mad Cow Disease :: Cows Engineered to Lack Mad Cow Disease

Scientists have genetically engineered a dozen cows to be free from the proteins that cause Mad Cow Disease. The research published in the online journal Nature Biotechnology could be used as a tool that would help researchers better understand similar brain-wasting diseases in humans.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists evaluated cattle that have been genetically modified so they do not produce prions, and determined that there were no observable adverse effects on the animals’ health. These genetically engineered cattle would not get mad cow disease.

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is a chronic, degenerative disorder affecting the central nervous system of cattle.

“These cattle can help in the exploration and improved understanding of how prions function and cause disease, especially with relation to bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE,” said Edward B. Knipling, administrator of ARS. “In particular, cattle lacking the gene that produces prions can help scientists test the resistance to prion propagation, not only in the laboratory, but in live animals as well.”

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