News 2417 views last update:Feb 25, 2016

Chinese scientists start selling micropigs

Chinese researchers developed a small type of petting pig while developing new models for human disease.

Interdisciplinary scientific journal Nature recently reports about genomics institute BGI in Shenzhen, China, which created the minipigs by applying a gene-editing technique to a tiny breed, called Bama. The technique has been known for some while already.

BGI uses TALENs (an enzyme) to disable 1 of 2 copies of the growth hormone receptor gene in a Bama's foetal cells.

Selling the tiny pigs as pets

In late September, the institute revealed that it would start selling the newly created animals as pets. Allegedly, the animals weigh about 15 kg when fully grown and would cost around US$1,600 each.

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Conventional Bama pigs (35-50 kg) have previously been used in research. To make the smaller versions, the researchers made cloned pigs from cells taken from a Bama foetus.  Before they started the cloning process, the researchers disabled 1 of 2 copies of the growth hormone receptor gene in the foetal cells.

BGI says that the profits made from selling the micropigs as pets will be invested in research that explores how gene editing in pets and in medical research can be regulated.

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