New York: Using the gene-editing technology CRISPR, Chinese scientists have created pigs that are thinner and leaner with about 24 per cent less body fat than normal pigs.
For the experiment, the researchers from the Institute of Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, used CRISPR to insert a gene into the pigs which could help the animals to regulate their temperature better by burning fat.
While normal pigs have a tendency toward fat accumulation, the gene inserted pigs had more lean body mass and decreased fat percentage, the study noted in the paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Decreasing the fat could also help the pigs to be less susceptible to cold in winter, thus cutting costs for farmers.
“They could maintain their body temperature much better, which means that they could survive better in the cold weather,” said Jianguo Zhao from the varsity, reported independent.co.uk quoting NPR.org.
In the study, the researchers successfully created 12 pigs with just under a quarter less body fat than regular pigs.
They inserted a mouse version of a gene called Uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) known for regulating body temperature into the pigs.
While the findings could save farmers millions in heating and feeding costs, and also reduce piglet deaths in winter, the researchers doubt whether the genetically modified pigs will be approved for public consumption, or whether people would actually want to eat them.
“I very much doubt that this particular pig will ever be imported into the US one thing and secondly, whether it would ever be allowed to enter the food chain,” noted R. Michael Roberts, professor at the University of Missouri.