A method of gene-editing that can produce single-sex litters of mice could prove a major boost to animal welfare in scientific research and farming.
In a collaboration with the University of Kent, researchers at the Francis Crick Institute, both UK, used CRISPR-Cas9 - a gene editing tool - to deactivate a gene involved with embryo development, allowing only the desired sex to develop.
In scientific research there is often a need for either male of female animals, for example to study the reproductive system, sex-specific diseases, or certain hormones and the new technique could reduce the number of unwanted lab mice that are killed by tens of thousands.
“This work could have immediate and valuable impact in scientific laboratories, as we’ve shown how it is safe and effective in mice, a common mammal used in medical and scientific research,” said James Turner, author and group leader of the Sex Chromosome Biology Laboratory at the Crick.
The findings have been published in Nature Communications.