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For thousands of years people have considered dairy products as a folk remedy for practically every human illness–most of which are ineffective.

An article in the February, 2008 journal of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) reports that researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have successfully used gene therapy to produce therapeutic proteins in milk for treatment in such diseases as insulin or cancer. Unlike current methods that use cloning, and require additional time and cost, this new approach reduces the time it takes to breed large animals capable of producing the therapeutic proteins.

For example, to have a goat produce specific proteins researchers radiate a portion of a male’s germ cells (the cells that produce sperm) in order to kill a portion of the cells. Using a modified adneo-associated virus ‘desired’ genes are inserted into the remaining cells. When the new genes take hold in the germ cells a number of the female offspring produce milk with the desired protein.

This new approach should benefit pharmaceutical development and biology research with the added benefit of eliminating genetic disorders in animals over several generations.

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