After more than 35 years of unsuccessful attempts by scientists, a team from the US have discovered an efficient technique for isolating embryonic stem cells in cows.
Their research is published in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Under the right conditions, embryonic stem cells can grow indefinitely and make any other cell type or tissue, which has huge implications for creating genetically superior cows.
Now scientists at the University of California, Davis, have developed a new culture system that allows them to efficiently derive stem cells on almost every single attempt.
“That could revolutionise the way we do genetics by orders of magnitude,” said study author Professor Pablo Ross, from the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis’ College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
In just a few years, scientists could speed up the process of improving generations by decades. “In two and a half years, you could have a cow that would have taken you about 25 years to achieve. It will be like the cow of the future. It’s why we’re so excited about this,” Professor Ross said, adding that the cow of tomorrow could have more muscle, produce more milk, emit less methane, and more easily adapt to a warmer climate.
He envisages the findings will also help the cattle industry become more sustainable. “Animals that are more efficient and have improved welfare, that may have more disease resistance is better for everyone,” Professor Ross said.