A significant event occurred in the world of science – scientists managed to create the first ever gene-edited rabbit. This breakthrough was achieved thanks to the joint work of scientists from the V.A. Afanasiev Research Institute of Fur Farming and Rabbit Breeding and the Institute of Gene Biology of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The newborn rabbit was named Rodnaya and already now differs from her peers – she is 50% larger.
However, before we dive into the details of this scientific achievement, let’s understand the differences between genetically edited and transgenic animals. It all started with transgenic technologies that raised fears among the public. They consist in introducing a second similar gene into the genome of an animal using a special viral construct. However, this approach has significant drawbacks. First, the new gene is inserted randomly, which can disrupt the work of other genetic ensembles. Secondly, a section of the foreign viral genome is introduced into the animal organism, which is used for delivery. It is these disadvantages that cause protests of opponents of transgenic animals.
However, Russian scientists used a different approach – gene editing. This method works in a targeted manner and does not require the introduction of new genes or viral constructs. Instead, the function of a specific gene responsible for mass is edited. In the case of the gene-edited rabbit, it involves knocking out the gene, that is, removing it. This leads to an increase in the activity of metabolic pathways related to lipid metabolism. It is due to this effect that weight gain in the rabbit was achieved.
This method of gene editing has already been successfully applied in the world of science on mice and rats. However, Russian scientists have managed to create the first gene-edited rabbit using a systemic regulator of lipid metabolism. The development of this technology took about a year and was accompanied by more than 700 unsuccessful experiments. However, all the scientists’ efforts paid off – the newborn rabbit Rodnaya weighs more than 100 grams, which is 50% more than the average weight of her peers.
This scientific breakthrough has huge potential not only for the field of animal breeding, but also for medicine. Gene editing can be used to study various pathologies and treat human diseases. For example, deletion of certain genes can help fight atherosclerosis and other metabolic diseases.
However, despite all the advantages of this technology, its potential risks must also be considered. It is important to conduct further research and monitor the gene editing process to avoid possible negative consequences.
In conclusion, the creation of the world’s first gene-edited rabbit is not only a scientific breakthrough but also a new step in the development of technology. This example shows that gene editing has great potential to improve animal husbandry and medicine. However, further research and oversight of the process is needed to minimize risks and maximize benefits.