Calves could be useful models for prion disease processes in animals and humans.

Hematech reported the production of healthy prion protein-knockout cows. The companies suggest that such healthy prion protein-free calves should be useful in investigating the function of normal cellular prion protein and the nature of prion diseases in humans and animals. Additionally, the cows will act as a source of prion protein-free products. 

“By knocking out the prion protein gene and producing healthy calves, our team has successfully demonstrated that normal cellular prion protein is not necessary for the normal development and survival of cattle,” states M. Robl, Ph.D., president and CSO of Hematech. “The cows are now nearly two years old and are completely healthy.”

Hematech is developing a bovine system for production of human polyclonal antibodies. As part of this effort, a gene targeting system was developed. This system was used to produce the prion protein-knockout calves. Hemacure conducted this work in collaboration with Kirin Brewery Company and published the data in Nature Biotechnology.

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