Chinese Researchers Create Low-fat Pigs using CRISPR

Published By : 25 Oct 2017 | Published By : QYRESEARCH

Researchers in China have announced their success in creating pigs containing less body fat than usual pigs. The researchers were motivated into the project by the difficulty of rearing pigs for meat production due to their inability to burn fat at efficient rates. The Chinese researchers used the gene editing tool CRISPR to introduce into pigs a gene that allowed the pigs to burn more fats at faster rates. The genes used in the research came from mice, which are part of the majority of animals that have the gene that pigs lack.

Pig fat is a key concern in the pork industry due to the need for fat in reared pigs, as it constitutes a major reason for the popularity of pork products such as bacon. However, rearing pigs with optimum amounts of body fat is not easy, as plumping pigs up to increase their fat volume makes the process extremely costly, while pigs need to be kept in artificially heated pens to enable the steady burning of fat, since they lack the gene to burn the fat on their own.

The Chinese researchers used CRISPR to insert a mouse gene for burning body fat into embryonic pig cells, which were used to generate 2,000 identical pig embryos. This led to the birth of 12 male pigs carrying the gene for burning body fat more efficiently. This resulted in the 12 pigs carrying 24% less body fat than their conventional twins. The researchers conducted an autopsy on the pigs at the age of six months to check for inconsistencies in tissue and organ growth and found no abnormalities, though more detailed tests will need to be conducted before a definitive verdict can be given on the quality of their meat. 

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