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Gene transfer puts good fats in mammals

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12:17pm, March 2, 2004

Aiming ultimately to make healthier beef, eggs, and other farm products, scientists have used a worm gene to genetically engineer mice whose tissues are unusually rich in the heart-healthy fats found mainly in fish.

Compared with red meat and poultry, fish such as trout and salmon contain large quantities of omega-3 fatty acids. These are more healthful fats than the omega-6 group, which tends to dominate Western food choices.

With an eye toward shifting that balance, the scientists inserted into mice a gene called fat-1, which in nematode worms produces an enzyme that converts omega-6 fats into omega-3 fats.

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