Genetically Modified Designer Dogs (China Creates the Super Dogs)
According to Business Insider, Chinese researchers have successfully bred genetically-edited dogs whose DNA was altered to give them specific attributes.
The Journal of Molecular Cell Biology released a report noting the researchers’ experimental work with beagles, in which they altered their DNA to eliminate the gene that produces myostatin – a protein that limits muscle growth. With this gene removed, the beagles involved now have double the amount of muscle mass they would normally have.
This experiment was tested on several puppies, resulting in a litter of 27 puppies, two of which had the altered myostatin gene that they hoped to engineer. These two beagle puppies, one male and one female, were named Hercules and Tiangou (a mythical Chinese ‘heaven dog’). While Hercules still has a few cells that produce myostatin, the experiment worked perfectly on Tiangou. In her case, she has twice as much muscle as the rest of her litter, much of it on her thighs.
Given the success of this initiative, MIT Technology Review reports that the researchers are hoping to perform further DNA alteration to give test dogs diseases such as muscular dystrophy and Parkinson’s, in the hope of seeing the way those conditions develop.
(Before you gasp at the inhumanity of it all: Beagles are often the subject of medical research in China, due to their similar physiology, metabolism and other attributes with humans.)
Where to go from here? The researchers note that they hope to continue working with the myostatin experiments, especially as the altered gene has been found in Hercules’ sperm. This shows that Hercules might be able to pass the gene on to any puppies he would have in the future.
In the meantime, we’re just a few steps away from bonafide Hulk dogs!