Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Gene-Edited Dogs

Dogs are very unique creatures. There are many kinds that range in size and personality; and yet they have become man's closest companion. Dogs serve many purposes in society from being a close friend to someone in need to fighting alongside a warrior in battle. Today, they also serve an investigative scientific purpose.

Liangxue Lai, a researcher and Regenerative Biologist, is studying dogs for the purpose of medical research in human diseases such as Parkinson's and muscle dystrophy. Lai recently conducted an interesting experiment. He took 60 Beagle embryos, and only 27 of them were born. Two out of the 27 puppies had gene-edited DNA using the CRISPR/Cas9 mechanism, where the gene that produced myostatin was disrupted. Myostatin is a muscle growth inhibitor. Only one of those two puppies (Tiangou) exhibited the gene-editing effect though, growing twice as large in muscle mass as the others.  According to Lai, the goal of the experiment was to cause muscle diseases in these Beagles and observe the correlation to human muscular illnesses for biomedical research.

I hope Lai and his colleagues gain a greater understanding of muscular diseases through their experiments. I find this study very interesting. I do not agree with creating gene-edited species, however. I understand I am not a biomedical researcher, nor do I know of the prevalent medical issues or how they can be solved; but today I am witnessing scientists seeking to alter life from the way it was previously designed.

Main Article: Genetically Engineered Dogs

Other Article: Gene Editing from Nature

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