AsianScientist (Apr. 19, 2012) – Scientists from BGI, in collaboration with the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and Shihezi University in Xinjiang province, have cloned the world’s first transgenic sheep.
Peng Peng, born on March 26, 2012 at 12:16 PM in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, was cloned using a simplified technique called handmade cloning (HMC). The project was also supported by the Animal Science Academy of Xinjiang.
“The transgenic sheep is named ‘Peng Peng’ after the identical given names of the two cloners. His birth weight was 5.74 kg,” said Dr. Yutao Du, Director of BGI Ark Biotechnology Co., Ltd. (BAB), a BGI affiliate that focuses on large scale production of transgenic and cloned animals.
In 2009, donor cells were collected from a Chinese Merino sheep, and by genetic manipulation a transgenic cell line was established. Peng Peng was born after numerous attempts, and he is reportedly developing normally and healthy.
Peng Peng also has a gene associated with ω-3 poly unsaturated fatty acid (ω-3PUFA), which may result in improved meat quality by increasing its unsaturated fatty acid content. ω-3PUFAs are essential fatty acids for healthy heart functioning and the normal development of the brain, eye, and neurons.
“The birth of Peng Peng means that people could absorb ω-3PUFAs by drinking milk or eating meat in the future,” said Du. “The most difficult task has been accomplished, the transgenic sheep production platform is established, we are ready for the industrial-scale development.”
Last August, BGI famously cloned six piglets from a pig named Zhu Jiangqiang (Strong-Willed Pig), which had survived for more than a month buried under rubble after the 2008 earthquake in China’s Sichuan province.
“With each new species cloned, we learn more about the possible contribution of HMC to improve the health of animals and humans,” said Du. “I expect more breakthroughs on transgenic and cloned animal research in the foreseeable future.”
Source: BGI; Photo: Wikipedia Commons.
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