December 10, 2003



Korea's Seoul National University Cloned BSE-Resistant Cows


A Seoul National University (SNU) medical team has developed four cloned cows that are less susceptible to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease.


"We made cows that have antibodies specifically targeted against abnormal prions, which cause mad cow disease," SNU professor Hwang Woo-sok said today. An abnormal prion is a diseased protein that triggers BSE and causes the destruction of brain tissue.


"We placed the prion-variation proteins into cells to prevent infestation before getting the four cloned calves," Hwang said.


Hwang's team detected the BSE-resistant genes in the calves and applied for an international patent on the genes. They will also send additional cloned calves from 15 pregnant cows to research facilities in Tsukuba, Japan to verify the research results.


Beef contaminated with mad cow disease consumed by humans can cause a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.


Till date, the disease has claimed 139 lives worldwide. 


Hwang's team also produced six "mini pigs" whose organs were more suitable for transplantation into humans, but the genetically modified pigs died after a few days, the team said.

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