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Russian centre cloned over 100 trans-gene sheep - By Alexei Filatov
[The Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union TASS]
DATELINE: MOSCOW, December 5
The Biotechnology Centre of the Russian Academy of Agricultural
Sciences has been first in the world to breed over 100 sheep with the
method of cloning, or grafting of embryonic cell nuclei, said the
director Professor Mikhail Prokofyev.
"One cloned sheep is worth ten cows," he said in an interview with
He said the cloned sheep are called trans-gene sheep. Prokofyev said
centre's breeding work had been patented.
Trans-gene sheep are unique in that they generate in their milk the
enzyme (ferment) chymosin which is essential in cheese production.
Chymosin is traditionally obtained from rennets of slaughtered young
calves, which is a very expensive way, Prokofyev went on to explain.
Chymosin from the milk of trans-gene sheep is ten times cheaper and is
of higher quality compared to traditionally derived.
Many unique discoveries go without appreciation in Russia these days,
Prokofyev said. He said the embryo research had to be stopped at his
centre because of scarce funding and be taken to a German centre.
Vladimir Zakharchenko, a laboratory director of the Biotechnology
Centre, has been at work in Germany for three years turning out cloned
calves using the Russian technology.
Prokofyev said the only solace was that this work was part of an
international collaborative research project and Russia can use its
with improvement of its financial situation, Prokofyev said.
The Biotechnology Centre is muddling through in its poky conditions
that were left to it after its grounds were turned over to the Gorki
Leninskiye forestry in 1987, and is pursuing new lines of research on a
bare minimum of funding.
The centre's outlet is assistance from Saratov regional governor
Ayatskov. Facilities are in the making in the Volga region for creating
herd of trans-gene sheep, a project expected to be finished in a year to
radically alter the cheese production technology.
Scientists of the Biotechnology Centre are breeding goats producing
the milk with valuable hormones and enzymes like erythropoietin,
The centre has started research to produce trans-gene swine, whose
organs can be transplanted to humans. This is a topical research, the
prize being the overcoming of the graft-versus- host response the body
mounts to a transplant. The idea is to introduce certain genes to the
genome, or the whole assembly of genes of the individual, for the swine
transplant to be tolerated by the human body.
Apart from the medical challenge, this research promises economic
profit. One gramme of erythropoietin, a hormone controlling red blood
production, has the price of 1. 5 million dollars in international
That said, "scientists still hope for help of the state and will
continue the research in interests of the human", Prokofyev said.
Richard Wolfson, PhD
Consumer Right to Know Campaign,
for Mandatory Labelling and Long-term
Testing of all Genetically Engineered Foods,
500 Wilbrod Street
Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 6N2
Our website, http://www.natural-law.ca/genetic/geindex.html
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