China Is Cloning Gene-Edited Beagles for Lab Testing

His name is Longlong, and he was created to develop a debilitating illness. He’ll live his life in a Chinese laboratory.

Isn’t that sad? Researchers actually want a dog fated to develop a heart disease. In fact, they want a lot of those dogs, so they can study them.

Longlong is a beagle puppy cloned in China by researchers for the express purpose of studying atherosclerosis. According to the American Heart Association, atherosclerosis "is a big word for a big problem: fatty deposits that can clog arteries. These buildups are called plaque. They’re made of cholesterol, fatty substances, cellular waste products, calcium and fibrin (a clotting material in the blood)."

Scientifically, Longlong is a major achievement. He represents the first time researchers have successfully combined cloning with gene-editing. The puppy’s reason for existence, however, will break any dog lover’s heart.

Longlong is a cloned copy of Apple, a beagle puppy whose genome was edited to make him develop atherosclerosis. But just having Apple to study wasn’t sufficient, of course. China’s scientists decided to use him clone Longlong—and two other identical beagle puppies, Xixi and Nuonuo—using “gene-edited” Apple as the source.

Yes, they now have four genetically identical gene-edited puppies to experiment on. Let that sink in for a moment. According to CNN, even though the puppies are currently healthy and not showing signs of atherosclerosis, scientists are already giving them atherosclerosis drugs to study their effects.

South Korea cloned the first-ever dog, an Afghan hound named Snuppy, in 2005. Care2 readers may recall that in 2017, South Korea reported success in “re-cloning” dogs – that is, making a clone from a clone. In addition to the money to be made from people who want to clone their deceased pets, scientists aim to study those “re-clones” to see what effect the process has on longevity and health.

Why are dogs such popular research subjects when studying disease? Chinese scientists say 400 out of 900 genetic diseases dogs inherit closely mirror those same diseases in humans, so they make the most appropriate subjects. Then again, dogs are not humans. Many would argue that enough parallels do not exist to justify the practice.

“Gene-edited dogs are very useful for pharmaceutical companies,” China Agriculture University professor Shi Zhensheng told CNN. “The supply falls short of the demand every year.”

Can you imagine this horror show? Pharmaceutical companies are actually clamoring for puppies so they can test, tinker and experiment with their lives, all in the name of “science”—and, certainly, profit.

It seems that certain drug companies and research groups don’t care that humans have no ethical right to do something like this.

Hold your dogs close tonight. Be thankful they’ll never have to experience what Apple, Longlong, Xixi and Nuonuo and millions of other lab animals will go through. It’s no kind of life.

We should be moving away from animal experimentation, not creating armies of debilitated animals who are fated to die after living horrible, sad lives in a lab. Yes, we need to find cures for diseases—but do we need to torment fellow creatures to get there?


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