January 21, 2015

GM cattle could cure Ebola

Maybe the bad stigma of genetic modification will turn around if it will, in fact, save human lives?!

Well now there is that opportunity. On a farm outside Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a herd of cloned, genetically engineered cattle are busy incubating antibodies against the Ebola virus.

The hope that researchers have is that the cattle will produce gallons of blood plasma that could be used to treat people with the deadly virus, which has infected more than 21,000 people in West Africa and killed 8,500 of them.

In the NBC News article, president and CEO of SAb Biotherapeutics, the company that developed the cattle, Eddie Sullivan said that the catte produce very high levels of human antibody.

GM Cattle

The cattle have been genetically engineered with human DNA so that their bodies don't produce cattle antibodies but human antibodies. They're cloned to make a herd of genetically identical, part-human animals.

Then they are vaccinated against various deadly diseases such as Ebola. Their bodies produce antibodies in response to these vaccines, and the hope is these antibodies can be used to treat people with the diseases.

So why are they using cattle to fight Ebola?

Cattle make the project larger-scale. Each month, around 30 to 60 liters of plasma are collected per animal. That translates into something between 500 to 1,000 human doses per month per animal.
Read more here.

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