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Muscle-gene edit creates buff beagles

Test of CRISPR gene-editing tool in dogs shows mixed results

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1:01pm, October 23, 2015
CRISPR beagles

BULKING UP  Two beagles named Hercules (left) and Tiangou (right) are the first dogs to have a gene edited with a tool known as CRISPR/Cas9. Researchers mutated the dogs’ myostatin genes to increase the amount of muscle the beagles make.

Bully whippets may have competition in doggy body-building contests. Two beagles in China have been genetically engineered to be extra buff. The small hounds are the latest addition to a menagerie of gene-edited animals that also includes pigs and monkeys.

Researchers in China decided to mutate a muscle gene in beagles to test whether a powerful gene-editing technology called CRISPR/Cas9 will work in dogs. Mutations in the gene, called myostatin, give bully whippets and Belgian Blue cattle their bulky muscles, but are not known to cause health problems.

Liangxue Lai of the South China Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in Guangzhou, China, and colleagues injected the gene editor into 35 beagle embryos. Of 27 puppies born, two had edited genes, the team reports October 12 in the Journal of Molecular Cell Biology.

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