|The genetically modified low-fat piglets. Image: channelnewsasia|
Chinese scientists have used genetic engineering to breed pigs with 24% less fat than normal swines, potentially saving farmers significant resources used in heating and feeding the animals.
In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists said that modern pigs lack a gene, called UCP1 - which is present in most other mammals - making them susceptible to the cold and prone to fat deposition.
To counter that, the scientist edited a mouse version of the gene into pig cells and then used those cells to create 2,553 cloned pig embryos, which they implanted into 13 sows. Three of the pigs became pregnant, producing 12 piglets, the report showed.
The hogs showed “an improved ability to maintain body temperature, decreased fat deposition, and increased carcass lean percentage”, the scientists said in their report.