Sunday, May 5, 2013

TALENs -- Huh?

Even though this is more about the University of Minnesota, the long-time rivalry of my beloved Badgers, I thought this study would be interesting to write about.

The U (as we call it in Minnesota) is now boasting an enormous advancement in the genetic engineering of livestock, called TALENs. Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology explains:

"Engineered nucleases enable the targeted alteration of nearly any gene in a wide range of cell types and organisms. The newly-developed transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) comprise a nonspecific DNA-cleaving nuclease fused to a DNA-binding domain that can be easily engineered so that TALENs can target essentially any sequence. The capability to quickly and efficiently alter genes using TALENs promises to have profound impacts on biological research and to yield potential therapeutic strategies for genetic diseases."

So what does all of that genetic jargon mean? It means that TALENs is able to alter any gene sequence, which could greatly impact how medical researchers, geneticists, and animal science researchers go about their work. Today we're going to look at what TALENs means for livestock owners.

The U's new research focused on the diabetes-prone Ossabaw miniature pig, even though the "big picture" of the study is to aid the medical community.

Medical community aside, this new technique could be quite helpful to all livestock owners, especially those in the dairy industry. In a field of work where genetics and production mean everything, dairy farmers could greatly benefit from being able to hand-pick the traits they want, and discourage unwanted traits.

Jerseys now have some hope of competing with Holsteins

Hopefully the U will keep doing work with TALENs so its tangible benefits to the livestock industry are revealed. And keep losing at football so the Badgers can keep the Paul Bunyan Axe.

Thanks for reading!