Like something out of a Frankenstein movie, Chinese scientists have created genetically engineered, extra muscular dogs, according to a report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) .
In the report, one of the scientists, Liangxue Lai, says his team has created beagles with double the muscle mass of normal beagles by deleting a certain gene. He says the mutant dogs have “more muscles and are expected to have stronger running ability, which is good for hunting, police (military) applications”,
But he says the main reasons for the mutating research is medical. As a dog’s anatomy is similar to those of humans, intentionally creating dogs with certain human genetic traits may allow scientists to more fully understand how they occur. The Chinese team now hopes to create other modified dogs, including some engineered to have human diseases like Parkinson's or muscular dystrophy.
The MIT reports says to create the dogs, the scientists removed the myostatin gene, which if inhibited for any reason results in "significantly more muscle mass".
The gene was discovered in 1997, when geneticists created a breed of mice known as “knockout mice” or “mighty mice” when it was removed.
Losing the myostatin gene occurs naturally in whippets, and leads to the creation of double-muscled “bully whippets” which are much stronger than the standard whippet breed. The change also occurs in humans, but very rarely. Ten years ago doctors reported that a child that had been born without the gene had extra muscles and was unusually strong
The mutant beagles will be kept at the Guangzhou General Pharmaceutical Research Institute.
Last year there were media reports of a mysterious looking animal being seen in Xinxiang, Henan province, which is home to several scientific research centers.
The animal which had pink flesh with leopard like spots and a mohawk-style plume, had terrified local residents.
One witness said: ‘The pink skin makes it look just like pig gone wrong in some sort of genetic experiment.’
The animal was not seen again once local police began investigating the sightings.