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BSE Resistant Cattle?

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Mad Cow Disease-Resistant Calf Sent to Japan

By Kim Tae-gyu
Staff Reporter- Korean Times
A mad cow disease-resistant calf was sent Friday to Japan where it will go through laboratory tests.

Seoul National University professor Hwang Woo-suk sent the calf to Japan's National Institute of Animal Health (NIAH) at Tsukuba via a flight for an in vivo challenge test.

``The NIAH will check whether the calf can really prevent mad cow disease in a real-life environment and whether it does no harm to people,'' the 51-year-old Hwang said.

Hwang added his team selected the Japanese laboratory because Korea lacks this type of facility.

The team originally planned to send the calf to the NIAH, which was established last May with the investment of about 200 billion won, much earlier but the schedule was delayed for various reasons.

In December 2003, Hwang's team disclosed four cloned calves, which have the ability to control abnormal prion proteins, the infectious agents that cause mad cow disease.

The genetically engineered calves are hard to breed as only one out of 100 pregnant surrogate mothers succeeds in giving birth to the mad cow disease-free offspring.

Hwang's team is the only one in the world that has cloned the revolutionary calves, which are expected to have a big impact on the global beef market when they are commercialized.

``Currently, about 10 surrogate mothers are carrying the mad cow disease-resistant calves in their wombs. But we cannot know even a calf can be born,'' said professor Lee Byeong-chun, a colleague of Hwang.

However, things will be accelerated when the Kangwon Provincial Livestock Research offers an exclusive facility to Hwang's team for the research.

Kangwon Province also looks to spend 3.7 billion won by 2006 to provide 300 head of surrogate mothers, a necessity for the team to conduct the cloning research.

Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), is a contagious disease that caught the world off guard two decades ago.

Since the deadly epidemic was first discovered in Britain in 1985, up to 200,000 head of cattle from more than 20 nations have been infected with it and 3.5 million cows have been slaughtered to prevent its spread.

BSE is also believed to cause a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), a human brain disorder, as the two diseases are related to the same infectious agents and have a similar track record of occurrences.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe these are the cattle which have been genetically modified to not produce healthy proteins associated with BSE.

The knock-out calves are similar to Prusiner's knock-out mice which were genetically modified in the same way. Word is that his mice were screwed up and after a while showed all kinds of abnormalities, including inability to breed and loss of night/day sensory, etc.

If people really want to eat genetically modified beef, they won't buy it from me.

I doubt that these animals will be capable of reproduction on their own. It will be similar to having the terminator gene in cattle.

Can't say I have much faith in a news article when it says BSE is contagious and infectious. If it is so deadly, why do they have to homogenize it, sonicate it, then inject it, in order to transmit disease?

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