China university breeds calf to produce low-lactose milk

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To meet needs of a country widely sensitive to dairy products, scientists have genetically modified a dairy calf to produce low-lactose milk.

The genetically modified calf was bred by scientists at a north China university.

Lab professor Zhang Li said the calf, “Lakes,” is almost seven weeks old and is healthy and strong. The calf is expected to produce the low-lactose milk in two years.

Xinhua reports the genetically modified calf will produce safer milk for lactose-intolerant people, who account for nearly 60 percent of Chinese.

Zhang and his research team extracted fetus fibroblasts from a Holstein cow in May 2011 that was 45 days pregnant. Cells in the fetus was genetically engineered to include a lactose dissolution enzyme to  dissolve lactose into galactose or glucose, easing digestion for people who are lactose intolerant. The engineered fetus was transplanted into the womb of a cow in July.

The process was performed on 14 dairy cows with five born in April. Only three calves carried genetically modified trait, and Lakes was the only calf to survive 24 hours after birth.

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