With his black, brown and white fur, Longlong looks like most beagles. But the puppy has been sick with a blood-clotting disorder since birth — exactly what scientists in China had wanted.
The pup was cloned from Apple, a different dog whose genome was edited to develop the disease atherosclerosis.
With that genetic information now coded in, the disease — a leading cause of stroke and heart sickness — was passed along to Longlong, who scientists will use to study the condition and its possible cures.
Atherosclerosis, in which fatty material builds up and thickens artery walls, can cause heart attacks and strokes, and affects more than 15.8 million Americans alone. Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death globally, killing 17.7 million people in 2015, according to the WHO.
To date, researchers say the dogs haven’t shown any symptoms of the disorder but they are closely monitoring their health, said Mi Jidong, General Manager of Sinogene.
The earlier method to create atherosclerosis in dogs was to force feed the animals with meals high in sugar and fat until symptoms appeared. The current technique of gene editing and cloning involves less suffering, [researcher Feng Chong] said.[Yale director Eugene] Redmond agreed: “If anything, making better animal models more focused on the problem of interest could lead to better therapy development, [and] safer treatments, with fewer animals required.”
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