China just got a step closer to having an army of human super soldiers after they announced their genetically engineering hyper-muscular super dogs.
The dogs, which are test tube bred in a lab, have twice the muscle mass of their natural counterparts and are considerably stronger and faster, reported Express.co.uk.
The canine genome, which has a close similarity to the human genome, has been especially difficult for scientists to engineer and replicate.
The genetic manipulation success in China has led to fears the same technology will be used to create armies of weaponised super-humans.
David King, director of Human Genetics Alert (HGA), is concerned about where this technology could lead.
He 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. ”
“There’s no medical case for it, the scientists are interested in being the first person in the world to create a genetically engineer child.”
“They’re interested in science and the technology and their careers. They will continue pushing the regulations for it.”
“That does set us on the road to eugenics. I am very concerned with what I’m seeing.”
The Chinese researchers first self-bred cloned dog was named Little 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, said Express.
The genetic editing technology is a breakthrough that could be the vanguard of the dawn of ‘superbreeds’, which could be stronger, faster, better at running and hunting. From a police dog standpoint, they could be extremely dangerous to people.
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.”
About 65 embryos were ‘edited’, and of those 65, 27 were actually born, with Little Long Long the only one who was created without the myostatin gene. Myostatin is known to control muscle size in humans.
Scientists say dogs are one of the hardest animals to clone, and only South Korea has doe it in the past.
Researchers said in the Journal of Molecular Cell Biology that some dogs will be bread to have diseases so they can be used for experimentation to try to cure human diseases.
Dr Lai added: “The goal of the research is to explore an approach to the generation of the new disease dog models for biomedical research.”
Many critics have ethical concerns over the project, even concerns over the creation of designer or novelty pets, or even specialty baby humans in the future.
Dr Lai said his team have no intentions to breed the bulked up beagles as pets, but Mr King fears this breakthrough, coupled with existing cases of altering human embryos, could lead to further calls for designer babies.
The director of HGA, and independent body, claimed there are multiple examples of eugenics going on already, citing women who are intelligent and beautiful are paid more for their eggs in the US.
Mr King said: “It’s not scaremongering. I’m seeing the beginning of a campaign within the scientific community to legalize human genetic engineering.”
“We’ve seen how it happened with the three-parent embryo. I can see the same thing building up with genetic engineering.”
There are strict laws around cloning, but we all know that government facilities are typically not subject to laws.
Guo Longpeng, the China press officer for the Asia division of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said: “Cloning is unethical.
“Like any other laboratory animal, these animals are caged and manipulated in order to provide a lucrative bottom line.”
What do you think about the prospects of this? Let us know in the comments below!
(Article By Jeremiah Jones)