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Thursday, May 11, 2006
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CCMB scientists develop knockout mouse strain
Gene knockout technology allows the researchers to precisely remove a particular gene in mouse.
Hyderabad , May 10
Scientists at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) have developed a knockout mouse strain that will go a long way in creating designer dairy animals with modified milk properties. This will also help in creating human disease models and in drug discovery.
Gene knockout technology, a perfected technology in the developed nations, allows the researchers to precisely remove a particular gene in mouse. The absence of the gene would help them understand the importance of the gene.
The discovery would help know how exactly lactation takes place. It would also help understand the evolution of mammals.
The findings of the study were published in the US-based prestigious research journal, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The CCMB scientists, led by Dr Satish Kumar, have joined the select club by genetically engineering a mutant mouse strain that lacked kappa-casein, one of the important milk protein genes. Though healthy without the gene, the females lost the ability to produce milk, Dr Lalji Singh, Director of CCMB, said.
Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, he said caseins meet the protein requirements of the young mammals.
The caseins in the mammary gland form molecular bundles that trap a large amount of calcium phosphate to pass on to the little ones.
Though the knockout technology is in vogue for the last 15 years, it is for the first time that kappa-casein is excluded. "This is like an architect changing the design when he wants to affect a change in the look of the building," Dr Satish Kumar said.
Stem cell research
Dr Singh announced that the Centre, in association with Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS), would establish a stem cell research and tissue engineering facility near Uppal.
The Department of Science and Technology allotted Rs 22 crore for setting up the facility. While the CCMB offered basic research support, the NIMS would assist in clinical aspects.
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