TALLINN - Although Estonia’s transgenic calf is not the first one in the world, the ability of our scientists to use such complicated technologies in bigger mammals shows that we are among the strong and high-level science states, Tartu University cell biology professor Toivo Maimets said on Sept. 3 after the official presentation of Estonia’s first transgenic calf Juuni, reports Public Broadcasting.
Scientists had to combine two relatively complicated skills – cloning animals and gene transplant technology - for the calf to be born, said Maimets.
The genome of the red and white calf called Juuni, who was born on June 22, includes the human growth hormone gene and in the future hopefully the cow’s milk will contain the growth hormone that can be separated from the milk and used to treat different diseases. This enables making medicine production considerably cheaper.
The world’s first calf who, after growing up, started yielding milk containing growth hormone was born as the result of research of Argentinean scientists Carlos Melo. The corresponding science article was published in 2006.
“There are very few cows in the world of whose milk medicines can be produced, they are rare,” Postimees Online cites Estonian Land University science prorector Ulle Jaakma. “The medicines industry has waited long for implementation of such a technology – it enables to make medicines production cheaper and to raise its quality.”
Delfi reported that the project started already in 2008. Juuni will go live on a small farm; in the future, the scientists of Tartu hope to grow a whole herd of cloned cows.
The transgenic calf was created with the cooperation of Estonian University of Life Sciences, Tartu University and Reproductive Medicine Technologies Development Center.