What are Transgenic Animals?
Transgenic animals are the one that carries a foreign gene inserted into their genome so as to alter their DNA. The method of creating such an animal involves the injection of the unrelated gene into the pronuclei of a fertilized egg. This egg is then planted into the oviduct of a recipient animal (mother) who gives birth to the genetically modified progeny. Amongst several transgenic animals created, the most common ones are mice. Others include transgenic pigs, rabbits, rats, cows, fish, and sheep.
The transgenic animals are created because of the benefits they provide to the man. Let us discuss a few of them here.
- Normal physiology and development: In these animals, the gene is introduced from a foreign species, due to which the growth factor is altered. Hence, these animals facilitate the study of gene regulation and their effect on the everyday functions of the body.
- Study of disease: Transgenic animals are specially designed to study the role of genes in the development of certain diseases. Moreover, in order to create cures for diseases, the scientists need models for those diseases. These transgenic models are used for research for the development of medicines. For example, we have transgenic models for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer.
- Biological products: A number of biological products such as medicines and nutritional supplements are obtained from transgenic animals. Research for the manufacture of medicines to treat diseases such as phenylketonuria (PKU) and hereditary emphysema is going on. The first transgenic cow, Rosie, in 1997, produced milk which was rich in human protein (2.4 grams per liter). This transgenic milk contains the human gene alpha-lactalbumin and could be given to babies as a better alternative to natural cow milk.
- Vaccine safety: Transgenic animals, most commonly mice, are used for testing the safety of vaccines before they are injected into humans. This was conventionally done on monkeys.
To learn more about transgenic animals, visit Byju’s.