Scientists have produced gene-edited animals that say they can serve as “super dad’s” or “surrogate cyrus”.
Pigs, goats, cattle and rats carry the genetic material of sperm donor animals.
The researchers used a high-tech gene editing tool to exclude a male reproductive gene in animal embryos.
The animals were born sterile, but started producing sperm after one injection of sperm-producing cells from donor animals.
The US-UK team said the technology would allow surrogates to carry offspring of elite animals such as primary bull animals.
He said that this would be a step towards genetically raising livestock to improve food production.
Professor John Otley of Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine said: “It can have a big impact on addressing food insecurity worldwide. If we can tackle this genetically, it means less water , Less feed and less antibiotics we have. To put in animals. “
What did the experiment show?
Surrogate saints were confirmed to have active donor sperm. And the mice gave birth to healthy offspring that carried the sperm donor’s genes.
Large animals have not yet been banned. But Professor Bruce Whitelaw of the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh said the study provided a powerful proof of concept.
“It shows the world that this technology is real. It can be used,” he said. “Now we have to go in and use it in the best way possible to help feed our growing population.”
According to the researchers, the technique can also help in the conservation of endangered species.
It is possible, for example, to use the frozen sperm of an endangered rhino to revive the species. But he said that the speed with which science can be put to work will be influenced by policy makers.
Gene-edited livestock has not yet been approved for human consumption, with concerns over product safety, ethics and animal welfare.
What is gene editing?
Gene editing involves removing or replacing coding in the embryo. An example of current technology is CRISPR, a biological system for transformation of DNA discovered in 2012.
CRISPR scans the genome looking for the location of a certain gene and then uses “molecular scissors” to snipe through DNA.
While effective in the lab, the process is less than perfect and can cut a lot of DNA. These unwanted edits can alter other important genes.
What are ethical issues?
The Nuffield Council on Bioethics is investigating ethical issues raised by the use of gene-editing techniques in farmed animals.
Potential applications of gene-editing techniques include genetically hornless cows, and pigs or chickens that are resistant to diseases.
Gene-editing can be part of a response to many challenges faced in various parts of the world, including access to healthy and nutritious food, said director Hugh Vitall.
He told BBC News, “To what extent genome editing can be implemented outside of the research setting and how it should be done will depend on further research and development, with societal values and interests. .
“These are among the questions we are looking for in our current investigation on genome editing and farmed animals.”
The research is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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