Bovine TB is a risk to cattle in many countries, including parts of the UK, Africa and Asia and Chinese researchers used a genome editing tool to change the genetic code of cattle. They say that this technology could have widespread uses in agriculture.
A team from the College of Veterinary Medicine, Northwest A&F University in Shaanxi, China, altered a gene involved in fighting infection.
"The resulting transgenic cattle exhibited increased resistance to M. bovis (bovine TB) infection," they said.
"Our study provides an avenue to develop the CRISPR/Cas9 system for agricultural applications."
Scientists in China have previously inserted a mouse gene into cattle in an attempt to boost protection against TB, but the latest research, published in the journal, Genome Biology, used the new genome editing tool, which is more precise.
Tests on resistance to TB were carried out on blood samples taken from the cloned animals, which means unfortunately that it is not clear what would happen if the transgenic cattle were exposed to tuberculosis in normal conditions.
Prof Ian McConnell, emeritus professor of veterinary science at the University of Cambridge, said TB in cattle is a complex disease and further said;
"Although it is a thorough and novel paper on using gene technology in transgenic cattle at this stage I doubt if the research will have any application to prevention of TB in cattle using transgenic technology.”