Improving milk for human consumption through genetic engineering technologies
Improved living conditions, food security and particularly access to comprehensive health care systems resulted in a continuous increase of the human life expectancy. However, living longer does not immediately mean quality of life can be maintained into old age which is commonly compromised by disease and the full benefit of a longer life can only be realized when the later stages of live can be enjoyed in good health. This has generated strong demand for new innovative foods that are not only save and nutritious but also have health enhancing properties. Genetic modification technology provides a direct approach of enhancing existing attributes that are beneficial for human health, minimizing any undesirable characteristics or enabling the introduction of novel, health promoting traits. Focused on milk as an important human food source, we will review the humble beginnings of testing transgenic approaches with mouse models, transfer of these simple overexpression strategies into livestock species, application of programmable nucleases for the targeted modifications of milk characteristics and discuss future opportunities that are becoming feasible with today’s sophisticated technical capabilities.
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