I recently was told that I would be working on a research project at the Vet school this summer. It was by far the most exciting and goo news I have received in a long time…Now I just need to get these finals out of the way. I will apologize in advance for not posting much this week. I foresee that I will be extremely busy.
But being that my summer will involve science, I decided to make today’s post about scientific news. Don’t worry, it still involves animals. But as I was reading both of these stories, I found them too fascinating not to share.
Mucus from Pig Stomachs Is Effective as Anti-Viral Agent: May Be Useful in Cosmetics and Baby Formula
ScienceDaily (Apr. 25, 2012) — Scientists are reporting that the mucus lining the stomachs of pigs could be a long-sought, abundant source of “mucins” being considered for use as broad-spectrum anti-viral agents to supplement baby formula and for use in personal hygiene and other consumer products to protect against a range of viral infections.
Their study appears in ACS’ journal Biomacromolecules.
In the report, Katharina Ribbeck and colleagues point out that mucus, which coats the inside of the nose, mouth and vagina, is the immune system’s first line of defense. The slimy secretion traps disease-causing microbes, ranging from influenza virus to HIV (which causes AIDS) before they can cause infection. That has led to consideration of mucin, the main component of mucus, for use as an anti-viral agent in a variety of products. However, existing sources of mucins, such as breast milk, cannot provide industrial-sized quantities. Large amounts of mucus exist in the lining of pigs’ stomachs, and the authors set out to determine if pig mucus — already used as a component of artificial saliva to treat patients with “dry mouth,” or xerostomia — has the same anti-viral activity.
They found that pig mucus is effective at blocking a range of viruses, from strains of influenza to the human papilloma virus, which is associated with cervical and oral cancer. They report that pig mucins could be added to toothpastes, mouthwashes, wound ointments and genital lubricants to protect against viral infections. “We envision porcine gastric mucins to be promising antiviral components for future biomedical applications,” the report says.
As if this article wasn’t interesting enough, there was another one to catch my attention that regarded cloning. While cloning can be considered a controversial issue, (I have no idea who would want to clone anything, they may have genetics but so far have been unable to create the same personalities of animals…guess its a nature v nurture afterall…..)I thought some may find this article informative.
World’s First Handmade Cloned Transgenic Sheep Born in China
ScienceDaily (Apr. 19, 2012) — Chinese scientists from BGI, the world’s largest genomics organization, together with the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and Shihezi University, Xinjiang province, made a significant breakthrough in animal cloning. The world’s first transgenic sheep produced with a simplified technique, handmade cloning, was successfully born at 12:16pm, March 26, 2012, in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China.
“The transgenic sheep is named ‘Peng Peng’ (after the identical given names of the two cloners), his birth weight was 5.74 kg.” said excitedly Dr. Yutao Du, Director of BGI Ark Biotechnology Co., LTD. (BAB), one of BGI’s affiliates focusing on large scale production of transgenic and cloned animals. “Peng Peng is developing normally and appears healthy” she added.
The project has been launched more than two years ago. Apart from the general inefficiency of cloning (only a small fraction of the reconstructed embryos develop to healthy offspring) cloners had to overcome additional difficulties including the special climate and compromised laboratory environment with very basic instruments. Accordingly, an innovative simplified technique called Handmade Cloning (HMC) was used, with less demand for sophisticated equipment, simplified procedures, lower costs and higher production efficiency. In 2009, donor cells were collected from a Chinese Merino sheep, and by genetic manipulation a transgenic cell line was established. After numerous attempts, the HMC system for sheep cloning was successfully established in October 2011. The transfer of the produced embryos has eventually led to the present achievement.
The genetic modification may result in improved meat quality by increasing the unsaturated fatty acid content. According to the researchers, the gene associated withω-3 poly unsaturated fatty acid (ω-3PUFA) was successfully transferred into Peng Peng. ω-3PUFAs serve as essential fatty acids for humans reducing the risk of coronary heart disease and supporting the normal development of the brain, eye and neurons. “The birth of Peng Peng means that people could absorb ω-3PUFAs by drinking milk or eating meat in the future.” said Dr. Du, “The most difficult task has been accomplished, the transgenic sheep production platform is established, we are ready for the industrial-scale development.”
Since HMC was introduced in 2001, offspring of several important species including cattle, pig, goat and water buffalo have been produced by using this technique. The procedure may contribute to efforts to save endangered species and to produce medicines for human diseases through transgenic animals.
Last year, BGI has made great achievements on cloned transgenic mini-pigs and micro-pigs. Last August, a heroic pig, named Zhu Jiangqiang (Strong-Willed Pig), who had survived more than a month buried under rubble after the 2008 earthquake in China’s Sichuan province was also cloned, producing 6 piglets identical with the famous animal. “With each new species cloned, we learn more about the possible contribution of HMC to improve the health of animals and humans.” said Dr. Du. “I expect more breakthroughs on transgenic and cloned animal research in the foreseeable future.”
BGI Ark Biotechnology Co., LTD. Shenzhen (BAB), affiliated to BGI, is a high-tech enterprise, mainly focusing on mass production of transgenic and cloned animals.
Based on a core technology named Handmade Cloning (HMC), BAB has established a reliable and efficient standard production system, including vector construction, screening of genetically modified cell lines, reconstruction of cloned embryos, embryo transfer, among others.
Compared with traditional cloning, the benefits of handmade cloning are great. Low equipment costs, a simple and rapid procedure and a higher in vitro efficiency are valuable for large scale research in medical and agricultural sciences.
The project was also supported by the Animal Science Academy of Xinjiang.
Happy Monday Everyone!