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.
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