Herman, the bull with a human gene, dies aged 13

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The Independent Online

Herman the Bull, the world's first farm animal carrying a human gene, was put down yesterday because he was suffering from a form of arthritis.

Herman the Bull, the world's first farm animal carrying a human gene, was put down yesterday because he was suffering from a form of arthritis.

He was 13, not very old for a bull. His ailment was unrelated to his genetic manipulation. Two cloned cows, Holly and Belle, kept him company in his final years.

A human gene was spliced into Herman's genetic code while in an early embryonic stage in 1990, in the hope that milk produced by his female offspring would bear a human milk protein. The process was cutting edge at the time, but has since been refined and is now commonly used. The experiment was only a partial success. Milk from Herman's descendants contained the proteins, but at such low levels that it was not commercially worthwhile to extract them.

A spokesman for the Naturalis museum in Leiden in the Netherlands, where Herman spent his final years, said his joints had become blocked with growths. "He was always well-kept and happy, but you could see toward the end that he was in pain," Hans Dautzenberg said. "He avoided moving his knees and when he laid down, he stayed down for a long time."

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