News of the WeekBiotechnology

Improving Gene Transfer Into Livestock

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Science  27 Nov 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5394, pp. 1619
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5394.1619a

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Current methods for introducing new genes into cattle and other livestock have a low efficiency--no more than 10% at best. But in the 24 November issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers report on a new method for producing such transgenic animals that approaches 100% efficiency at passing on the foreign gene. They achieved this by introducing a foreign gene into cow eggs before they were fertilized rather than shortly after, as is currently done. The increased efficiency should be welcome news to researchers who want to introduce genes into livestock, either to improve the strains or to use the animals to produce medically valuable proteins such as monoclonal antibodies or vaccine proteins, and could even make cloning of livestock obsolete.