Chinese scientists claim to have cloned cattle with increased resistance to TB

A team of Chinese scientists have claimed that they have cloned cattle with an increased resistance to bovine tuberculosis (TB).

During the course of their research, 20 calves were reportedly born, while 11 of these are believed to have survived for more than three months.

The researchers used a genome editing tool to change the genetic code of cattle in order to improve their resistance to the disease.

This technology could prove very useful in the agriculture sector, the researchers from the College of Veterinary Medicine, Northwest A&F University in Shaanxi, China, believe.

A number of tests using a control group and the cloned animals were carried out on the animals.

The results from these tests showed that the ‘transgenic (cloned) cattle exhibited increased resistance’ to the disease compared to the control group.

This latest research was recently published in the journal, Genome Biology.

TB in Ireland

The Bovine TB Eradication Programme as implemented by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, includes a range of measures.

These measures include:
  • Annual testing of all herds in the country.
  • Testing of herds contiguous to TB breakdowns.
  • Blood testing of certain animals.
  • The restriction of herds which have experienced a breakdown.
  • Removal of sources of infection in wildlife.

Shortly before the Christmas, the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, said that the incidence of TB in the country has fallen from 5.9% in 2008 to 3.4% in 2015.

This is the lowest level on record since the programme commenced in the mid 1950’s, he added.

Minister Creed also dispelled any rumours at the time that he had any intention to introduce two annual TB tests for cattle.