The biotech industry is at it again.
However, the latest news isn’t about the industry’s involvement with your food or some pills you may be taking, but about tapping into society’s seemingly collective love of adorable animals.
Specifically, Chinese biotech firm BGI has focused on creating the so-called perfect pig: they’re genetically modified to stay tiny, a size that’s pleasing for many teacup, or miniature, pig owners. Instead of people having to contend with little teacup pigs that end up growing up to be anything but little, the firm believes its new creation is just what people crave. Tiny stays tiny.
Oh, and how could we forget?
Of course, the company, based in the southern city of Shenzhen, intends on making a significant profit; they have plans to sell the miniature pigs — originally created to study human health conditions — for $1,600 each. But according to Yong Li, technical director of BGI’s animal-science platform, the profit from BGI’s pet micro pigs would go toward medical research.
Pig’s natural growth stunted to make them desirable
The company engages in a process called gene editing, which essentially involves disabling the pig’s growth hormone receptor gene instead of putting another organism’s DNA into the pig. In turn, cells don’t receive the proper signal to grow as they normally would. As a result, the pigs remain small and cuddly — and in this company’s case, not any more than about 33 pounds. The result: no more shocked pet pig owners who become saddened when “little” piggie balloons up to a 250-pound oinker careening through the dining room.