Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012
A cow named “Daisy,” who was genetically engineered to produce a hypoallergenic milk, has apparently succeeded in giving milk that is absent a protein called β-lactoglobulin, which causes allergies mainly in infants. From LiveScience, via MSNBC.com:
“Since the protein is not produced in human milk, it’s not surprising that this protein may be recognized as a foreign protein in infants and cause allergies,” study author and scientist at AgResearch in New Zealand Stefan Wagner told LiveScience.
Studies show that about 1 in 12 infants develops an allergic response to whey, but most infants are able to outgrow their allergy.
For decades, food manufacturers have broken up whey protein, a mix of about 10 proteins including β-lactoglobulin, in milk products through a process called hydrolysis in an effort to decrease its allergenicity.
“Infant formula uses hydrolyzed milk, which is supposed to be much less allergenic, but there is still residual risk to exposure of allergies,” Wagner said.
Some outside researchers expressed concern because while the milk produced by Daisy does show much less β-lactoglobulin, it held more of a non-whey protein called casein, which is also responsible for allergies. “We wouldn’t think that this has any relevance to milk allergy; whey protein is one of many, many proteins that people can be allergic to,” said Robert Wood, allergy and immunology chief at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, who was not involved in the new research.
Image: Cow, via Shutterstock