In what could be a monumental discovery for new mothers all over the world, researchers in China say they have genetically engineered cows to produce milk that is nearly identical to human breast milk.
According to a report on FoxNews.com, the key is a protein called lysozyme. The enzyme protects babies from infection and is in breast milk, but hardly in cow's milk.
So researchers at the State Key Laboratory for Agrobiotechnology at the China Agricultural University in Beijing created calf embryos with the genes to produce lysozyme and then raised the calves. Their milk turned out to have the enzyme.
The researchers write:
Despite the benefits [human lysozyme] provides to breast-fed infants, mothers do not always desire to lactate and sometimes situations prevent lactation. Therefore, the development of alternative sources of [human lysozyme] would be beneficial to infant health.
The research appeared in the March 16 issue of the journal PLoS ONE.