Genetic modification of livestock for the production of therapeutics and designer foods


  • Phil L'Huillier



The first transgenic animals were produced back in the mid-80s. This involved the introduction of foreign DNA into fertilised mouse eggs producing transgenic mice for studies of the biological systems regulating growth and development. Since that time, transgenic mice, rats, rabbits, sheep, pigs, goats and cattle have been produced. The use of transgenic animals for novel biomedical applications, such as the production of biologically important molecules or therapeutics, has now progressed to near-commercialisation. With the biological revelation that a cell taken from an adult animal can be developmentally-reprogrammed and, following transfer to an enucleated egg, produce a copy of the original donor animal came a new approach to the production of transgenic animals. This procedure, commonly referred to as nuclear transfer or 'cloning' now provides a new exciting and more sophisticated approach to the production of transgenic animals. These technologies and the livestock produced will have a significant impact on agriculture, livestock production, medicine and society as a whole. The current debate in our society about genetic engineering and genetically modified foods is indicative of the need to carefully identify the issues, and fully assess the benefits relative to the risks before embarking on commercial transgenic livestock production. Keywords: biotechnology, cattle, genes, microinjection, molecular biology, nuclear transfer, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, sheep, transgenic livestock