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Cows used to produce milk that protects against HIV

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October 22, 2012

Dr. Marit Kramski (left) and colleagues Behnaz Heydarchi and Rob Center, with bags of froz...

Dr. Marit Kramski (left) and colleagues Behnaz Heydarchi and Rob Center, with bags of frozen HIV-fighting milk (Photo: Fresh Science)

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Despite the misgivings that many people have surrounding cow’s milk, it is a good source of nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D. Now, thanks to scientists at Melbourne University, special milk may also be used to protect people from HIV. Working with the Australian biotechnology company Immuron Ltd, a team led by Dr. Marit Kramski has vaccinated pregnant cows with an HIV protein – the first milk that those animals produced after giving birth contained HIV-disabling antibodies.

While cows cannot contract HIV themselves, they do nonetheless produce antibodies in response to the introduction of the foreign protein. Those antibodies are passed along in the colostrum, or first milk – that milk already has a naturally high antibody content, in order to protect newborn calves against infections.

In laboratory tests, the milk-derived HIV antibodies were found to bind with HIV, inhibiting it from entering human cells.

Marit Kramski preparing human cells for testing in the lab (Photo: Fresh Science)

Marit Kramski preparing human cells for testing in the lab (Photo: Fresh Science)

Instead of administering the milk orally, Kramski and her team plan on using it to create a cream. Women could then apply that cream to their vaginas before and/or after sex, to prevent HIV infection. While other institutes are also developing HIV “microbicides,” the Melbourne technology is reportedly an easier and less expensive method of producing them.

Animal and human trials are now being planned.

In the recent past, scientists have also had success in using genetically altered cattle to produce human breast milk.

Source: Fresh Science

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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3 Comments

Its about time we find way to prevent infection, but what about all of our loved ones that are already positive? Got milk?...i can only hope an pray that I continue to be negative... An keep fingers crossed for a cure!

Brian Tomilson
23rd October, 2012 @ 10:13 pm PDT

I was all excited about the prospect of people being able to drink milk to be immunized against HIV. I thought it was a very interesting approach until I read this: "Instead of administering the milk orally, Kramski and her team plan on using it to create a cream. Women could then apply that cream to their vaginas before and/or after sex, to prevent HIV infection."

I mean seriously, how many people will take the time to cover their vagina with cream in the middle of trying to have sex if they wouldn't use a condom? It's great people are trying to find a way to thwart HIV transmission & possibly a cure... but... Of course leave protection up to women as usual... Should just be able to drink it, not try and cover your vagina before and after sex with cream? What about oral sex? Did they even think about protecting men? Seriously did a man come up with this idea??? (I know the team is led by Dr. Marit Kramskire & women were in the picture.) ...but how big of a jar of cream are they going to give each woman, gallon jugs? How much cream will you need, does it need to be refrigerated, what's the shelf life, and how are you suppose to get it up there to cover your vagina or see that it's covered properly? (Will the jar of cream come with a mirror?) This might be a less expensive way to produce HIV “microbicides,” but no way is it easier to use or more cost effective for the user than drinking milk or taking a pill, except providing some false sense of immunity & providing them with repeat customers & potential lawsuits... Sometimes doing things cheaper just isn't the most effective way to stop something like HIV when you might be able to immunize people. I suppose they're thinking it will work like a spermicide, but this is not a well reasoned method of protecting women from something that can kill them in a long drawn out fashion, or men for that matter.

Sherry Friedrichs
26th October, 2012 @ 09:59 pm PDT

Instead of drinking it and becoming permanently immune, just apply it. Don't want to make the whole world immune just yet. Bad business model see.

Dawar Saify
29th October, 2012 @ 12:04 am PDT
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