Genetically engineered ‘muscley’ dogs bred in China

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Two beagle puppies called Tiangou and Hercules were created to be extra muscley, with double the amount of muscle mass than typical by deleting a single gene called myostatin.

The team from the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health reported their results in the Journal of Molecular Cell Biology, saying the goal was to create dogs with other DNA mutations, that human diseases such as Parkinson’s and muscular dystrophy, so treatments could be tested on them.

The muscle-enhanced beagles were creating using a gene-editing technology called CRISPR-Cas 9 – a sort of cut-and-paste tool for DNA.


The researchers inserted this DNA-modifying tool into more than 60 dog embryos. Their objective was to knock out the myostatin gene which blocks muscle production, so that the beagles’ bodies would produce extra muscle.

In the end, of 65 embryos they edited, 27 puppies were born, but only two had disruptions in both copies of the myostatin gene.

Since the technique is relatively simple, some fear humans could be next. In April another Chinese team reported altering human embryos in the laboratory, in an attempt to correct a genetic defect that causes beta-thalassemia disease.

“We have already modified embryos of both pigs and primates,” said Professor George Church of Harvard University, who is a pioneer in the field of genetic engineering. “It might actually be safer, and developmentally important to make corrections in a sperm or embryo, rather than a young child or an adult.”


For instance, he said, gene editing can be used to correct some forms of blindness, but it has to be done before neurons become solidified and more resistant to change in adulthood.

Read full, original post: Chinese scientists create ‘designer dogs’ by genetic engineering

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