A disease-resistant piglet has been produced using new genetic engineering. It is the first animal created from ‘gene-editing’.
The piglet was born four months ago at Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, and is known as ‘Pig 26’. ‘Gene-editing’ involves researchers snipping the animal’s DNA and inserting new genetic material, in effect changing a single one of the three billion ‘letters’ that make up its genome, according to Independent.ie.
According to researchers, this method has a success rate of 10% to 15%, and copy’s a natural genetic mutation that it would be impossiblesee that the animal’s DNA had been artificially modified.
Antibiotic-resistance genes not used
Anti-GM campaigners have a major concerns regarding crucial drugs becoming ineffective in the use of use of antibiotic resistance genes, however reports state that the new method does not involve antibiotic-resistance genes.
Prof Bruce Whitelaw said, “Unless you had an audit trail of how that animal was formed, you would have no way of knowing how that mutation happened. It could have happened naturally, or in this case been engineered by a DNA editor. We can get rid of antibiotic resistance and for some situations we can get rid of cloning as well. I think cloning does have some baggage attached to it.”
He further added: “We as scientists are very excited about this because of very precise changes, and we see this as very powerful, but whether the public will see that as inherently different is another matter altogether,” he added.
Pig 26 was produced to make it immune to infections such as African Swine Fever, while this methos could be used to create other livestock. It could also mean that feeding the growing global population will be less challenging.
Researchers at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, also created Dolly the cloned sheep in 1996.
(**NOTE: Photo insert not of actual piglet)