Genetic cows could be BSE immune

A team of international researchers has genetically engineered a dozen cows which they claim could be immune to BSE.

The scientists, from the US and Japan, said the animals were free from the proteins, called prions, which cause the brain-wasting disease. BSE did not take hold when brain tissue from two of the genetically engineered cows was exposed to bad prions in the laboratory, it was reported in online journal Nature Biotechnology.

The surviving cows are now being injected directly with BSE to make certain they are immune, although the results will not be known until later in the year at the earliest, according to Hema-tech, the US-based biotechnology company which sponsored the research. While the move could have implications from a food safety prespective, the issue of eating genetically modified food would still remain.

A spokesman from the Meat & Livestock Commission in the UK said it was still very early days but the research was something they would be watching with interest.

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