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 Good preparation is half the digestion
15.11.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Stoffwechselforschung

nachricht How the gut ‘talks’ to brown fat
16.11.2018 | Technische Universität München

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 Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Massive impact crater from a kilometer-wide iron meteorite discovered in Greenland

15.11.2018 | Earth Sciences

When electric fields make spins swirl

15.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Discovery of a cool super-Earth

15.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>