Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Milk in rice could curdle

26.04.2002


Biotech human breast milk growing but not bottled.



Genetically modified (GM) rice carrying a protein from human breast milk could be used to enhance infant formula, researchers hope. But at present, the protein would not gain approval for use in the United States.

Nutritionists agree that breast milk is best for a baby; infant formula is not as nourishing as the real thing. So for mothers unable to breast-feed, the biotech industry is engineering crops or animals to make human breast milk proteins to ’humanize’ formula.


Yuriko Adkins of the University of California, Davis and her colleagues, have modified rice plants to carry a human gene for a milk enzyme called lactoferrin. Babies need this to use iron efficiently and fight infection.

Rats fed the rice-raised ’recombinant’ enzyme together with a second enzyme, lysozyme, were better able to kill gastrointestinal bacteria, she told the Experimental Biology 2002 meeting this week in New Orleans. Sterilization inactivates the lactoferrin in current cow-based infant formula; the GM form is stable.

But the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will not approve the recombinant protein, warned Steve Taylor of the University of Nebraska, who has been involved in worldwide GM food committees. "I’m about to throw a bit of cold water on this debate," he said.

To test if GM products could cause an allergic reaction, the FDA compares a GM protein with known human allergens - including lactoferrin from cows.

The FDA’s regulations are designed to cover biotech plants that carry drugs or pesticides. They will have to be rethought before rice-grown lactoferrin, and other human proteins made by genetically modified organisms, can be approved for production, says Taylor.

Researchers may be able to bypass the regulatory process if they can prove that the recombinant protein acts identically in the gut to the human one. The two might then be treated as the same, hopes Todd Stoltz of Ventria Bioscience, the company planning commercial production of the human proteins in rice.

Murky milk

In future, recombinant proteins might be used to customize milk formulas, for example to enhance premature babies’ nutrient absorption or to help newborns fight HIV. HIV-positive mothers are advised against breast-feeding by the World Health Organization.

Human breast-milk proteins are already experimentally produced in organisms ranging from fungi to cows. "These proteins are out there by the tonne," says Bo Lonnerdal, who studies them at the University of California, Davis. Yet it is unclear exactly what some of them do in the body, or what tests must be done to demonstrate that they are safe and effective.

For example, there are no animal models that adequately mimic human allergy. And it is unclear whether an animal’s response to a human protein is comparable to that of a person.

Babies fed breast milk develop fewer infections than those on formula and have different gut bacteria. But there’s no guarantee that consumers will accept humanized biotech milk; they may be particularly concerned about feeding GM food to their baby. "It’s a very emotive issue," says Lonnerdal.

HELEN PEARSON | © Nature News Service

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Carefully crafted light pulses control neuron activity
20.11.2017 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

nachricht Could this protein protect people against coronary artery disease?
17.11.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Heavy nitrogen molecules reveal planetary-scale tug-of-war

20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

Taking a spin on plasma space tornadoes with NASA observations

20.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>