21 August 1998

Grandmother In Diapers

Researchers at the University of Connecticut Transgenic Animal Facility have developed a technique which in theory, could open the way to women becoming grandmothers before they are ten years old.

By collecting eggs from the ovaries of a two month old calf, then maturing and fertilizing them before implanting them to be carried to term by a surrogate mother, the researcheers have allowed a heifer to become a mother of two before puberty

Says Dr. Xiangzhong (Jerry) Yang "This goes some way to alleviating one of the obstacles toward using transgenic cattle to produce milk therapeutic to humans." He adds: "The process and the techniques we used may further benefit breeding programs for domestic livestock, the preservation of endangered species and the treatment of infertility in women."

The technology is focused on producing viable eggs from a cow before puberty to significantly reduce the time line for the creation of a transgenic herd. A transgenic animal is one that has had DNA introduced into one or more of its cells artificially.

"The length of time it takes to produce such a herd is the main obstacle to the use of transgenic cattle for the production of recombinant therapeutic proteins in cow's milk," says Dr. Yann Echelard, vice director of research at Genzyme Transgenic Corp., which partially funded the project.