China breeds world's 1st gene-edited cloned dog
Gene-editing technology has been used successfully by Chinese scientists for the first time to clone a beagle, according to a report in Science and Technology Daily.
China's first gene-edited dog Long Long. [Photo: thepaper.cn]
The dog named Long Long has become China's first completely self-bred somatic-cell cloned dog, and the world's first gene-edited cloned dog. Somatic cells are any cell of a living organism other than the reproductive cells.
"This is a breakthrough, marking China as only the second country in the world to independently master dog-somatic clone technology, after South Korea," says Lai Liangxue, a researcher of Guangzhou institute of biological medicine and health with the Chinese academy of sciences.
Speaking to Science and Technology Daily, he explained that dogs had long been considered as one of the most difficult animals to be cloned, as the quality of their ovary cells are relatively poor, and the process of cloning embryo preparation is challenging.
A scientist researching dog-somatic clone technology. [Photo: thepaper.cn]
In addition, dogs don’t come on heat often, which makes it's hard to synchronize the cloned embryos with the reproductive cycle of a surrogate mother.
Lai Liangxue and his team now have succeeded in editing dogs' genes, essentially changing their nature and producing customized dogs. Then they are able to copy the model, in order to achieve "batch" production.
"With this technology, by selecting a certain gene of the dog, we can breed an animal with more muscles, better sense of smell and stronger running ability, which is good for hunting and police applications," says Lai Liangxue.
He further suggested that the gene-edited technology could be commercialized and further applied to breed model dogs with diseases such as autism and diabetes.