China creates muscular super dogs'
DECCAN CHRONICLE | DC Correspondent
London: Weaponised super-humans similar to comic superheroes may soon be a reality for China. Beijing on Monday announced that it was genetically engineering hyper-muscular super-dogs. The test-tube bred dogs have twice the muscle mass of their natural counterparts and are considerably stronger and faster, express.co.uk reported. The canine genome has been especially difficult to engineer and replicate but its close similarity to the human genome means it has long been the prize of geneticists. China’s success has given rise to fears it could use the same technology to create weaponised super-humans.
Experts at Sino Gene, a biotech company based in Beijing, recently revealed a fluffy beagle called Long Long.The beagle puppy, one of 27, was genetically engineered by ‘deleting’ a gene called myostatin, giving it double the muscle mass of a normal beagle. The advance genetic editing technology has been touted as a breakthrough which could herald the dawn of ‘superbreeds’, which could be stronger, faster, better at running and hunting.
China says the dogs could be used for security or policing. Dr Lai Liangxue, researcher at Guangzhou institute of biological medicine and health, said: "This is a breakthrough, marking China as only the second country in the world to independently master dog-somatic clone technology, after South Korea." Dr Liangxue has already created the world’s first gene-edited dogs, beagles named Hercules and Tiangou.
The dogs have "more muscles and are expected to have stronger running ability, which is good for hunting, police (military) applications," Dr Liangxue had told MIT review back in 2015. However some have criticised the experiments, citing ethical concerns. David King, director of Human Genetics Alert (HGA),told Express: "It’s true that the more and more animals that are genetically engineered using these techniques brings us closer to the possibility of genetic engineering of humans. Dogs as a species, in respect of cloning are very difficult, and even more difficult to clone human beings."
He said the Chinese scientists were "interested in being the first person in the world to create a genetically engineer child." But Dr Lai has said that his team has no intentions to breed the bulked up beagles as pets, according to express.co.uk.