Pigs get ripped with this one weird trick: Knocking out the porcine gene MSTN, according to a report in Nature News. Seoul National University’s Jin-Soo Kim, a member of the team who created the pigs, told Nature the so-called double-muscled pigs could have been eventually created through conventional human methods — i.e., breeding. But genetic editing, via a technology called TALEN, proved much quicker.
Unlike other GMOs or Margaret Atwood’s human-boar pigoon hybirds, no foreign genes were introduced to create these pigs; TALEN has been described as “molecular scissors” that snip out selective parts of an organism’s genome and glue the ends together without putting anything else in. In the eyes of Kim and his colleagues, that means the path to human consumption of swole pigs shouldn’t be as bumpy as that of other genetically engineered animals. No animals have yet been fully approved by the FDA, though the transgenic eel-modified AquAdvantage salmon is close.
It’s not all smooth sailing for the pigs — only one of the 32 engineered piglets is currently alive and healthy. But cows have successfully been double-muscled, thanks to generations of breeding, giving rise to the beef equivalent of Dwayne Johnson. Can you smell what this Belgian Blue is cooking?