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Texas A&M Researchers Create Goat With Malaria Vaccine In Her Milk

By: Shane McAuliffe Email
By: Shane McAuliffe Email

Over at the Texas A&M Reproductive Sciences Complex, you'll find several animals with unique capabilities.

Goat number 21 is one of those creatures.

"This project is one of the most interesting that we've been involved with because it has so much potential world wide," said Texas A&M researcher Charles Long.

Long & fellow A&M researcher Mark Westhusin keep a careful eye on goat number 21 because her milk holds a vaccine for malaria.

"There are lots of different things that one can think about producing in the milk. Malaria vaccine is one that's really important because there's a big demand for it in a lot of impoverished countries," said Westhusin.

Through genetic engineering, this goat could be the golden goose when it comes to preventing malaria in third world countries. A disease that kills a child in Africa every minute according to the World Health Organization.

"What you'd have is an animal that could be in any village around the world and all natives would have to do is drink some of that milk and be immunized against malaria," said Long.

But before any of that happens, this goat has to jump through a lot of hoops.

"We'd love to start air dropping goats into Africa but the reality is we're not going to be able to achieve that objective for another five or 10 years at least," joked Long.

"What we have to do is milk the goat, purify the protein, then we'd have to do all kinds of clinical testing and safety testing. Just like as if we were to take any drug and go to market with it," said Westhusin.

Step number one will be waiting for this motherly goat to give birth, which will happen in the next week. That's when testing on the milk will intensify and the offspring checked to see if they carry on the gene that carries on the vaccine.

"That's when we get to start to collect this milk, storing the milk to extract out the antigen that will become the vaccine," said Long. 
 
It's estimated that malaria kills between 650,000 and 1.2 million people every year.

Researches at the Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology Department are also working on animals that are more disease resistant, more feed efficient, and produce milk that produces lower fat.


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