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Scientists Clone Sheep With 'Good' Fat 233

Posted by Soulskill
from the pulling-the-wool-over-your-stomach's-eyes dept.
redletterdave writes "Chinese scientists have cloned a genetically modified sheep containing a 'good' type of fat found naturally in nuts, seeds, fish and leafy greens that helps reduce the risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease. The gene, which is linked to the production of polyunsaturated fatty acids, was inserted into a donor cell taken from the ear of a Chinese Merino sheep. The cell was then inserted into an unfertilized egg and implanted into the womb of a surrogate sheep. With any luck, this process could be replicated in the future to clone more animals for safe and healthy consumption."
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Scientists Clone Sheep With 'Good' Fat

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  • by tomhath (637240) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @07:07PM (#39789605)
    Healthy bacon. Mmmm.
    • HeaIthy bacon, Mrnrnrn,
    • Of course, it will smell like fish when you fry it...

      • by Genda (560240)

        But first you have to catch before it flies away!!! Watch out for the tentacles.

    • There already are GMO pigs. A Canadian group created them about a decade ago, and last I heard they were trying to get regulatory approval in Canada to sell them for meat. They were modified to more efficiently digest phosphorus from grain, thus reducing their environmental impact. I believe the trade name they intend to use is Ecopig, or something like that.
  • my wife... (Score:5, Funny)

    by crutchy (1949900) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @07:10PM (#39789623)
    ...gets a bit of "good fat" occasionally
  • It's the same problem that killed Dolly the sheep early. Mammal female germ cells avoid activity prior to fertilization to minimize oxidation damage to their mitochondria. This may or may not be dealt with by then breeding normally thereafter.
    • Erk. Just read the process again. Gene into somatic cell nucleus, then somatic cell nucleus into regular egg. Doesn't have that problem.
    • by tragedy (27079)

      I'm pretty sure it's not the mitochondria, but the shortened telomeres in the older nuclear DNA.

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @07:16PM (#39789697) Homepage

    GMO plants is one thing, but animals? I can't quite put my finger on why, but someting about this seems... troubling.

    • Because you think modern livestock haven't undergone genetic modification?

    • by englishknnigits (1568303) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @07:39PM (#39789903)
      Are you saying you would rather eat an animal that doesn't want you to eat it?
    • Because you can't treat a plant inhumanely. Sheep can suffer. And we know how compatible capitalism and bioethics is.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      We've been doing GMO for centuries, many of them. The difference is now we're able to make specific, targeted changes much more rapidly, whereas before we had to breed features in and out of our food species over very (very very in some cases) long periods with only a partial ability to control the outcomes well. This whole argument is kinda like hearing someone say "You genetically modified a housecat to not have claws? That's so unnatural!" .. as if housecats are at all natural. We created what they a

  • by Grayhand (2610049) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @07:18PM (#39789721)
    The fact they got the fat gene from a round worm gave me this mental image of a 100lb round worm covered in sheep's wool. I doubt counting those wouldn't help me get to sleep and would likely give you nightmares.
  • So we'll soon have mutton that tastes like spinach?

    • Or cashews.

      Could be a growth market - flavored cows. Spinach cows, cashew cows, trout cows, kale cows.....

      Dunno.

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      I don't know where that nonsense came from. The fat gene comes from a worm.

  • Healthy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kamapuaa (555446) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @07:29PM (#39789797) Homepage

    Worth mentioning that humans evolved to eat animals with standard fat percentages, not margarine or mealworm-sheep. There is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD [ajcn.org], and there are healthy populations that traditionally go 6-9 months with no fats except animals fats.

    • by Bucky24 (1943328)

      and there are healthy populations that traditionally go 6-9 months with no fats except animals fats.

      Bear in mind these populations probably also get a good amount of exercise... Here in 'merica we want to have our fat and eat it too.

      • Re:Healthy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by CAIMLAS (41445) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @08:49PM (#39790473) Homepage

        Here in America, we also have processed grains in everything.

        We also have a very high percentage of our diets consist of processed GMO grains (corn, wheat). If you're having 2 hamburgers with a handful of corn chips and two white wheat buns, the meat isn't going to be the primary component of the meal.

        It seems that every couple months there's a news article about some old guy or gal who died after a fairly insignificant (not particularly active or sedentary, nothing really marked to note) life who spent their entire life having pork (ham/bacon) and eggs for breakfast every day. It wasn't until the inclusion of excess grains that Americans started to have issues in the late 1800s.

    • Re:Healthy (Score:4, Informative)

      by slew (2918) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @08:18PM (#39790201)

      Worth mentioning that humans evolved to eat animals with standard fat percentages, not margarine or mealworm-sheep. There is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD [ajcn.org], and there are healthy populations that traditionally go 6-9 months with no fats except animals fats.

      FWIW, the main advance with this announcement is not the omega-3/FAT-1 transgenic aspect, it is the new cloning technique BGI calls handmade cloning which apparently allows lower-tech facilities and higher transgenic clone yield. BGI has already done this transgenic modification with pigs and now they have done it with sheep. With this new cloning technique, however, it might be possible to do this at an industrial scale.

      However, If you are interested instead about this specific "fat-1" transgenic idea, it was done with mice [nih.gov] way back in 2004.

      Although that is possibly true that saturated fats aren't corrolated with increased risk of CHD or CVD, omega-3 fatty acids are required for controlling blood clotting and building cell membranes in the brain and are assumed to be a necessary nutrient. The "healthy populations" you seem to be alluding to likley maintain their consumption of omega-3 fatty acids from seafood and nuts and oils for 6-9 months of the year.

    • Worth mentioning that humans evolved to eat animals with standard fat percentages, not margarine or mealworm-sheep.

      Worth mentioning that humans evolved with recurved spines that cause back pain. Evolved eating, breathing and speaking out of the same hole. Evolved all kinds of stupid, non-optimized features, of which our fat intake/heart disease relationship may be another. "The Panda's Thumb," by Stephen Gould, is a good read. In one of the many essays, he argues that the panda's screwy thumb isn't some highly optimized limb for stripping bamboo, it's just what evolution has managed to give the panda to date, with the p

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Worth mentioning that humans evolved with recurved spines that cause back pain.

        They also grant exceptional mobility, helping us to be some of the most versatile creatures on the planet, able to reach and survive in more environments than any other single species.

        Evolved eating, breathing and speaking out of the same hole.

        Only 5-10% of communication is verbal.

        Evolved all kinds of stupid, non-optimized features, of which our fat intake/heart disease relationship may be another.

        It looks stupid and non-optimized to you because you don't understand it. It's optimized for adaptation, which happened because we are semi-migratory in that we have had numerous substantial migrations and the resulting genes are eventually folded back in to the mixture.

        In one of the many essays, he argues that the panda's screwy thumb isn't some highly optimized limb for stripping bamboo, it's just what evolution has managed to give the panda to date, with the poorly-suited wristbone it had to work with.

        Yes, that is how ev

    • by Vellmont (569020)


      Worth mentioning that humans evolved to eat animals with standard fat percentages,

      Except we didn't evolve to eat animals every day in large amounts. There ARE significant studies that have correlated high LDL cholesterol with heart disease, and there are studies linking high saturated fats with an increase in LDL cholesterol.

      • by sunspot42 (455706)

        >Except we didn't evolve to eat animals every day in large amounts.

        Oh really? So what were we eating for the million or so years the human race evolved prior to the invention of agriculture?

        Of course we ate meat. It was the only thing an animal our size with a digestive system like ours could eat. Any study of primitive, hunter-gatherer societies will show that meat, eggs, fish and insects are the primary component of the diet in pre-agricultural cultures. Nuts, seasonal fruits, a few starchy tubers

  • by jtotheh (229796) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @07:44PM (#39789945)

    I don't want to seem old or old fashioned but this seems like a really bad idea in numerous ways. Maybe they should feed the clone brains from another sheep to add another dubious aspect to this process.

    • by siddesu (698447)
      You're not scared enough. Just wait until the Chinese scientists get permission to do the breeding on that asteroid that Google is about to bring in Earth orbit. Anyway, I am off to stock up on some shotgun shells, plasma cells and rockets.
  • When do we get Slig?

  • Can we genetically modify human women to not have any fat? I have one in particular that I'm pretty sure I have power over attorney over that I'd be willing to volunteer.
    • by siddesu (698447)
      I'm afraid not everybody shares your anorexic fantasies. Most of us prefer natural women, with enough fat in the proper places.
    • by Genda (560240)

      So you want a woman with no breasts and no ass... hmmm why not just find a guy?

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      I saw a woman today at the grocery store who looked like she had zero body fat. Not a pretty sight I can tell you. I wanted to drop six pounds of bacon in her basket as an act of charity, bit I thought she might take it amiss. Besides, it wouldn't have been enough.

    • Fact: Few guys really like the skinny kind of woman.

      I mean, seriously, when was the last time you walked past a construction site and heard "Hey, Bob, ya seen the hip bones of the chick?"

  • by doston (2372830) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @07:59PM (#39790069)
    Not eating cloned anything or anything that's been screwed around with. I know it's unpopular here, but I eat everything organic...everything. As far as meat, if it didn't eat what it was supposed to eat; pasture raised and organic at that, I avoid it. Chickens eat bugs and grass, not feed. They like to scratch around in dirt, not hang out idly in cages all day. Same with Beef, less the bugs. We're likely evolved to eat a paleolithic era type diet. Going to stick as close to that as possible. You aren't just what you eat, you're also what your food ate. Why would I support something like 800 million pounds of pesticide being dumped on the land every year? Now it's some pesticide killing the bees. I remember when my Father's doctor had him eating trans-fat for his heart trouble. What will researchers discover ten years after this cloned junk's been foisted on the public?
    • by Genda (560240)

      That the new race of superhumans that came from eating this mana from the gods is about embark on a long voyage to a distant new world they can see with their naked super eyes, and leave you sad organic nibbles to what's left of the earth.

      • by doston (2372830)

        That the new race of superhumans that came from eating this mana from the gods is about embark on a long voyage to a distant new world they can see with their naked super eyes, and leave you sad organic nibbles to what's left of the earth.

        I've met quite a few of these "Gods" while drinking beer. Don't get your hopes up.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Vellmont (569020)


      Chickens eat bugs and grass, not feed.

      We domesticated chickens about 5000 years ago. They haven't been eating bugs and grass for a long time. (Actually I'm pretty certain birds don't eat grass at all, so you might want to brush up on your livestock knowledge). Chickens are entirely dependent on humans, and wouldn't survive a week without humans.

      If you really want to stop eating anything humans have created and changed, you should stop eating almost everything in the food supply. About the only food in y

      • by sunspot42 (455706)

        >They haven't been eating bugs and grass for a long time. (Actually I'm pretty certain
        >birds don't eat grass at all, so you might want to brush up on your livestock knowledge).

        Chickens most certainly eat grass. My grandmother used to raise a few. They eat a lot of stuff. They seemed to love bugs the most. They'll eat seeds and grains too, but there's no way that's the bulk of their diet in the wild.

        We evolved to eat free range meat. Agriculture to produce farmed grains for livestock is a VERY rec

  • Aren't they usually a liquid at body temperature? Going to make for some really squishy lambs...

    • by Genda (560240)

      Try s sip, you might like it!!!

    • by CFD339 (795926)

      no, you're thinking plant fats with one hydrogen atom vs. animal fats with two. the "hydrogenate" plant fats to make them taste and have the texture of animal fats but as a result, they're just as bad for you.

      This is more about the fatty acids and oils that are why fish are healthier to eat than beef (in that we eat too much beef and not enough fish, generally).

      The real question is ...how will it taste.

  • What could possibly go wrong?

  • The article says they successfully cloned the roundworm gene into a sheep but doesn't say how much it changes the fat in the sheep. Who knows if it's even significant? And who knows if it's OK for sheep's health to make a weird kind of fat and who know if people will like to eat wormutton?

    A lot of the taste of meat is in the fat. Will it taste wormy?

    • by CFD339 (795926)

      More than that, it will likely interact with the brain differently. You could conceivably be creating sheep with very different brain function.

  • Am I the only one who thinks animals evolved with "bad fat" for a reason, other than clogging your cardiovascular system?

    Perhaps this "bad fat" isn't so bad? Remember when eggs were really bad for you, because they contained cholesterol, and now they're really good for you, because they contain good cholesterol?

    • by tbird81 (946205)

      Food doesn't contain "good" or "bad" cholesterol. It's always good old (10R,13R)-10,13-dimethyl-17-(6-methylheptan-2-yl)-2,3,4,7,8,9,11,12,14,15,16,17-dodecahydro-1H-cyclopenta[a]phenanthren-3-ol (or C27H46O for short).

      Those terms refer to the way it is tested in the blood. Cholesterol travels around the body in little bubbles named after the proteins they're carried in. The low-density ones tend to be worse, because they deliver cholesterol to the tissues. If you just look at the total cholesterol in the b

  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @08:44PM (#39790437) Homepage

    There is absolutely no information in the article. "Healthy fat found in seeds"?

    What it sounds like they're doing is they've figured out how to genetically modify animals to produce omega 3 and similar types of fats instead of the fats commonly found in grain fed or industrially raised meats. That's actually fairly big (good) news, I think.

    On the other hand, 'healthy' fat can be found in animals which are 'free range'. It's less environmentally intensive. The unhealthy fat found in animal meat is only unhealthy because of the way they're raised.

    • by w0mprat (1317953)
      Actually what it sounds like is they are referring to are polyunsaturated fats since Omega 3 is hardly found in seeds. Generally are lower to non-existent in farmed meat and much higher in seeds and grains, and very concentrated in some seafoods. Polyunsaturated fats include Omega 3, 6, and 9. 6 is an inflamation promoting PUFA that is eaten in far too higher proportion in the western diet.

      Omega 3s (DHA etc) are pretty sparse in plants, and the types of it in plants are poorly absorbed and metabolized. W
  • by Shavano (2541114) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @10:50PM (#39791157)

    Ewe!

  • by dAzED1 (33635) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @11:37PM (#39791361) Homepage Journal
    any particular reason one can't do this? A much more direct approach, healthier, more environmentally friendly, and doesn't have that extra-added danger of eating the product of extreme genetic modification...
  • Now we'll have lamb tasting like it, too.

  • Be honest: You think this could have happened here? Where we get our panties in a knot if someone only DARES to mention the idea of cloning or "playing God"?

    I know a few people who actually went over to China to do some research without having to deal more with some religious nuts than with actual scientific problems. And, face it, if the Chinese can do it, they will do it. And that kind of food will be popular, think of it: Tasty meat without the associated health risks of eating too much of it. You want t

  • bacon cracklins chicharrones ... at 60yo, I really miss ....

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