China Produces First Ever Gene-Edited Cloned Dog
Veterinarian Reviewed by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM on January 3, 2018
Posted in Dog
Chinese scientists have reportedly cloned the world’s first dog from a gene-edited donor in an attempt to find a cure for disease.
Atherosclerosis cardiovascular disease (ACD) is a blood-clotting disorder that causes heart attacks and strokes by building up fatty material that thickens artery walls. The number one cause of death around the world, ACD currently affects approximately 15.8 million Americans.
Last Spring, scientists at Beijing biotech company Sinogene cloned a Beagle from another dog whose genetic makeup was edited to develop ACD. The Beagle, whose name is Longlong, has therefore had the disease since birth and will be studied along with potential cures.
Why Use Dogs And Not Mice?
“Dogs share the most inheritable diseases with human beings, which makes them the best disease models to study,” Feng Chong, technical director at Sinogene, told CNN.
Shi Zhensheng, a researcher and professor at China Agriculture University, added that 400 out of 900 genetic diseases in dogs are very similar to human genetic diseases.
Since Longlong’s birth, Sinogene has cloned two more puppies with the same ground-breaking technique, giving the researchers four genetically-identical puppies to study. Longlong was born about twelve years after South Korean scientists cloned the first dog in history, an Afghan hound named Snuppy.
Questioning The Ethics Of Cloning For Studying Disease
Sinogene insists that their animals are treated with care but People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) recently released a statement calling the cloning an “unethical” waste of money.
“Cloning is not only expensive, but also inherently cruel…The vast amount of money used to clone could help save millions of cats, dogs and other companion animals who are euthanized at shelters every year because there are not enough homes for them,” reads the statement.
Sinogene, however, believes their animals will play a major role in the development of life-saving treatments and hopes to clone even more dogs.
“Gene-edited dogs are very useful for pharmaceutical companies. The supply falls short of the demand every year,” said Feng.
Prior to the success of gene-edited cloning, he noted, lab animals were force-fed unhealthy meals until they began to show symptoms of ACD.
“If anything, making better animal models more focused on the problem of interest could lead to better therapy development, [and] safer treatments, with fewer animals required,” Eugene Redmond, director of Neural Transplantation and Repair at the Yale University School of Medicine, told CNN.
PETA doubts cloning is more ethical than the previous methods, since the animals will still suffer from the disease.
Making Old Dogs Young Again
Sinogene plans to eventually clone police dogs, guide dogs and even family pets after being approached by many pet owners looking to clone their dogs and pass on certain traits to new pets.
“We hope to popularize [pet cloning] for the public,” Sinogene deputy general manager Zhao Jinping told local media.
So far, Longlong is yet to show symptoms of ACD. He was born on May 26th from 2-year-old Apple, who is not a clone but was created in a laboratory.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan