Milk Allergy, Anyone?

Got Milk?

Do you drink milk? If you don’t, is it because you don’t like it? Or is it that you can’t drink it due to your milk allergy?

Well, as we all know this creamy white beverage is pretty important for our body. Dr Wendy Bazilian claimed that milk contains calcium, vitamin D, phosphorous, and other nutrients that are needed by your bone, teeth, muscle, and blood vessels.

Now that you understand that milk is essential for our body, don’t feel so unfortunate that you cannot drink milk because of you are allergic to its protein beta-lactoglobulin (BLG) composition. A recent article confirmed that Anower Jabed and his colleagues from New Zealand had just been able to genetically engineer a cow so that its milk contains very little BLG (only about 2%).

These scientists applied a technique where they interfere with the RNA and suppress the gene that code for the production of BLG thus reducing it by 96%. To compromise this reduction of BLG, they increase the production of another protein known as caseins which have a high calcium level. Previously, other scientists had tried another gene manipulation method known as homologous recombination which removes the gene that produce the BLG completely, but unfortunately it failed to work.

These New Zealand scientists tested the RNA interference technique on 57 embryos and got one healthy calf. However, this calf turned out to not having a tail. They argued that this alteration is not related to the transgenic change, but they will need to wait until the calf gets older to further study the cause of its missing tail.

Bruce Whitelaw from University of Edinburgh claimed that this experiment is a milestone study in this field because RNA interference had never been tested in manipulating livestock before, although it had been proved to work with worms and plants.

Today’s industry is indeed able to produce hypoallergenic milk formulas by removing certain bovine proteins with the help of digestive enzymes. However, the process costs a lot of money and also causes the milk to taste weird. So, if the RNA interference turns out to not be the cause of the missing tail, then you with milk allergy can celebrate and start drinking normal-tasted-milk soon!

You can read further about the study here.

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3 Responses to “Milk Allergy, Anyone?”

  1. Sutedjo says:

    Kristal, I think Nestle does sell some hypoallergenic milk if I’m not mistaken!

    Alain, yes I think I heard about docking cow’s tail before. Surely, this problem won’t matter much. But I think, there are some people who are just against it:|

  2. Alain says:

    I grew up on a dairy farm and we used to cut 80% of cows’ tail length off anyway, so they didn’t crap all over it and then wave it in your face and the equipment as you milked them. Unless it has other random effects like missing ears, legs etc, this technique just might work.

    Bring on raw, unhomogenised milk you have to shake the 5cm of cream off the top of before you drink it!

  3. Kristal says:

    I’m lucky enough to not be allergic to milk, but simply lactose intolerant. I didn’t know that hypoallergenic milk was able to be made, though! I just thought there was lactose-free, or non-dairy alternatives.

    (For the record, I like lactose-free milk better anyway. It’s sweeter and less watered-down.)