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CRISPR pigs are leaner and cheaper
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CRISPR-Cas9 has gone the whole hog and created reduced-fat pigs that withstand the cold.
Pigs lack UCP1, a key protein that controls body temperature in most animals, so they must pile on fat or perish in the cold. Providing extra food and heating makes pig farming expensive. A team led by researchers from the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences used CRISPR-Cas 9 — a precise gene-editing tool — to take UCP1 from mice and add it to pig embryos they implanted into female pigs. The resulting piglets retained body warmth better when exposed to the cold and put on 25 per cent less fat as adults than pigs without UCP1.
Cold-resilient, slender swine could cut the cost of pig farming and become a source of cheap, lean meat.
- PNAS 114, E9474-E948 (2017). doi: 10.1073/pnas.1707853114