The Need For Speed: Genetic Editing Can Create Faster Horses

Argentinian researchers have created horse embryos after editing a specific speed gene with CRISPR/Cas9 technology. Drs. Lucia Natalia Moro, Diego Luis Viale, Juan Ignacio Bastón, Victoria Arnold, Mariana Suvá, Elisabet Wiedenmann, Martín Olguín, Santiago Miriuka and Gabriel Vichera are hopeful that the new technology will create horses with improved athletic ability; it could also be used to correct genetic defects that cause equine disease.

The scientists were successful in removing the myostatin gene, which inhibits skeletal muscle mass development. This gene plays a significant role in gene-based distance aptitude of racehorses. Their gene editing techniques achieved 96.2 percent efficacy.

The team noted that additional research to determine an efficient manner of editing embryos was needed before this technique could be used to improve the athletic performance of horses. The team’s long-term goal is to identify alleles that give a horse a natural sporting advantage and then incorporate them to allow other horses the same characteristics. They consider this technique a precision breeding strategy as it can deliver results to only one generation.

Read the full study here.

Read more at HorseTalk.

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