Sounds Like Science Fiction: Genetically Modified Horses To Hit The Ground In 2019

by | 12.31.2017 | 3:51pm

The term “genetically engineered” doesn't just apply to crops—soon it may also apply to horses. Genetically engineered “super horses” may be born as soon as 2019, thanks to a breakthrough made by a lab that has cloned polo ponies in the past. Currently, there are no rules prohibiting these genetically enhanced horses from competing at international events, including the Olympics.

Kheiron Biotech laboratory, an equine cloning lab based in Buenos Aires, uses a gene editing technique called Clustered Regularly Inter-Spaced Palindromic Repeats, or Crispr, to make very precise edits to DNA. This technique could create racehorses that are faster and stronger—and they already have a healthy embryo, which will be implanted into a recipient mare within the next two years.

The company has focused on “the myostatin gene sequence which controls and limits the growth of muscles,” reports the Daily Mail. It's believed that by changing this, the horses will be able to develop more muscle mass, which, in theory, will allow them to run faster for an extended amount of time.

Cloning does not improve a horse; it simply creates a genetically exact copy of the original, and can achieve the same results are traditional breeding in a shorter amount of time. Cloning has been in use in the equine world for over 10 years. The international governing body for horse sport, the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI), lifted a ban on cloned horses in 2013, but states that they will continue to monitor cloned horses and their progeny in international competition.

Genetically modified horses, however, would allow breeders and owners to “customize” the DNA of the horse to obtain the most desirable traits. Currently, there are no rules regarding genetically modified animals from international competition.

The laboratory expects to use these scientific advances in other animals for additional purposes.

Read more at the Daily Mail.

  • Tinky

    From the Daily Mail article linked above:

    “Genetically modified horses will be faster and stronger than even champion racehorses like Frankel (pictured), and they could be born in 2019”

    “will be”and “could be born in 2019” – LMAO!

    If any of those involved with the project would care to wager on that, please contact Ray, and he will provide my email address. I’m offering very generous odds.

    • Michael Castellano

      Reminds me of Hitler’s evil fantasy about building a “master race”. And killing everyone that did not fit his genetic blueprints.

      • duey_wag

        I saw “Buenos Aires” and had similar thoughts. Looks like the ideology is generational.

      • David Bofinger

        You think wanting to win a horse race, and wanting to conquer the world and exterminate “Subhumans”, are somehow comparable? I think you’re being very unkind to the researchers.

      • Joey Seay

        Sounds like the exact anolog of the breeding industry..

      • Sunstreaker

        I agree with you. Breeding seems to do similar, but it’s possible that genetic tweaking would accomplish the same, but faster. Still, some great racehorses of the past were anything but perfect and they accomplished great things.

    • Sounds like the same falicy as Cloning and homozygosity for color in paint horses

    • Joey Seay

      But they cant race…. In America atleast… And I would wager they cant be bread or their foal would be dis qualified for 10 generations..

      • Tinky

        True, but even if they we eligible the claims are sheer nonsense.

    • artistinwax

      I’m with you. The poor animals are going to have so many problems it is criminal. They will be lucky to live never mind become champion runners.

  • DonW

    Some science may help here: Myostatin was discovered about 20 years ago. It is a naturally occurring substance that blocks muscle development, so that muscles are not too big. Belgian Blue cattle lack the gene for myostatin, and so have huge muscles. But they are usually sterile and require a lot of veterinary care. The same is true for other animals genetically engineered to lack myostatin. There has been some interest is developing drugs that block myostatin so that children with muscular dystrophy might regain muscle mass, but this has not been successful. But this hasn’t stopped human athletes from trying drugs and other ways to block myostatin so that they can develop bigger muscles. There are no reports of it working. Despite the lack of success, the company mentioned in the article wants to try blocking myostatin in horses. From the data on other animals, the most likely result will be a massive increase in muscle mass and an horse that is unable to be trained to race.

    • Faye Wells

      Gods! This just gets worse and worse. I am a believer in “unintended consequences” in scientific experimentation (and other pursuits) not well thought out, or based on financial outcomes. Look at what highly selective breeding of dogs, based on color or a wish to modify a structural trait, has accomplished; winners in the show ring and heartbreak in homes with beloved pets suffering from the results of those modifications.
      I see no good outcomes with this proposed gene modification.

  • J. Nasium

    In order to be a registered thoroughbred a horse must have 10x of tb pedigree and it must be a natural cover. No cloning around here.

    • Kim Howell (Anita Xanax)

      No embryo transfer either, thankfully

    • Neigh Sayer

      If somebody wanted to do it, they could.

    • Joey Seay

      When I worked with Arabians at Del Park we already had a handful of them who were modified… From insiminated mares

      • Joey Seay

        Those rules only apply to TBs and TB racing

  • McGov

    Remarkable that we have spinal cord injuries that continue to paralyse humans and yet this absurd tinkering with the horse is permitted.

    • artistinwax

      Horses can’t complain if something doesn’t work. People can. So they experiment on rats, dogs, and now horses.

  • SUNNY FARM

    Modify the horse ? Why would you want to , why would you need to change one of God’s favorite creatures. So far humans have been able to screw up most all they touch. Is anyone learning anything from those mistakes ? Live cover means live cover. Dont let greed and money inspire others , you will not fill the card on race day in this way.

    • Joey Seay

      We do this every year through selective breeding.. In factits the ultimate goal

  • MsMoose

    Oh, please, NO! Where is the magic and mystery in a clone?

  • Gls

    It’s FrankenSTEEn!

    • Sunstreaker

      Frankensteed? 😂

  • Guest

    I don’t see how the genetically engineered horses will stay sound. More weight on the same size bones and joints? Sounds like the broiler chickens that get so big for market that they can’t stand up.

    • Joey Seay

      Your assuming they wont be genetically engeineered for longevity.

      • Tinky

        lol! Yeah – easy peasy.

    • C. Mac

      Agreed. The whole experiment seems to be based on a flawed premise: that more muscle mass equates to a faster horse. I don’t think that’s true in and of itself, but when you add the soundness implications of a horse carrying more weight on the same bones and joints… yikes. The whole thing seems poorly thought out to me.

  • Marlaine Meeker

    Well there goes all the fun.

  • Susan Arden

    This could be construed as animal abuse.

  • Live Cover or it does not count.

    • Joey Seay

      Literally… As a standard

  • Baloo

    I have mentioned before that a swim coach stated that the Chinese have been genetically altering humans … Ye Shiwen

  • J. Nasium

    Arabians are a different registry with different rules. Thoroughbreds registered with The Jockey Club must be from a natural cover and both sire and dam registered as well. Artificial insemination is a no no.

  • Cuffdaddy

    Some good news, the lab will only genetically alter Arrogate if they can also genetically alter Bob Baffert

  • Sunstreaker

    The following racehorse names are just thrown out there. Beyond Barbaro and Rachel Alexandra, I scrambled for a name. If the jockey club won’t allow a mare to carry surrogate for Rachel Alexandra (too dangerous to carry a foal) or Royal Delta (died from foaling complications), and they won’t allow semen to be collected from horses like Barbaro or Pine Island, why would genetically modified racing thoroughbreds be the basis for an article, much less an afterthought?

    While the thought of “customizing” a thoroughbred sounds interesting, isn’t that what breeding does as well? They need to allow surrogates and artificial seminarian first. Then feel free to go ahead and carry on about genetic modification of the thoroughbred breed. For Pete’s sake. You may as well go and consider up digging up the bones and remains of really great racehorses and try to clone them.

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