Gene-edited cattle can provide future answers to today’s challenges

Regulatory hurdles continue to halt progress of industry in using gene editing in cattle.


Jennifer M. Latzke, NebraskaFarmer 

Aug 04, 2022


Since the earliest domestication of livestock, farmers have been making improvements to their herds through phenotype selection.


But recent advancements in understanding cattle genomics and in the field of gene-editing have the potential to unlock a whole new era of making genetic improvements in cattle herds quicker and more precisely than ever before.


Complementary technology


Tad Sonstegard, CEO of Acceligen, explained the technology of gene editing. He spoke at the 2022 Cattlemen’s College in Houston.


Genome editing is a breeding method that uses gene editing CRISPR-Cas9 technology to introduce traits — or turn off traits — in the genome of an animal. It’s already in use in the plant world.


The beauty of using gene editing, Sonstegard explains, is it can target the parts of the gene that have specific trait and make changes in a generation, rather than waiting on generations of slow change through phenotype selection. This technology can be used in cloning and in creating IVF embryos.


But it’s a long way from proof-of-concept to commercialization. Acceligen has been working on this since 2013, and has successfully managed 10 different events for six traits in four geographies, he said.


In cattle, Acceligen is hoping to be the first to market on five traits ...


Regulatory matters ...