Ishee, a member of what's called the "biohacker" movement, says he is hoping to use inexpensive new gene-editing techniques to modify the genes of Dalmatians. By repairing a single DNA letter in their genomes, Ishee believes, he can rid them of an inherited disease, hyperuricemia, that's almost as closely associated with the breed as their white coats and black spots. [...]
Humans have been shaping the DNA of dogs for millennia. But the breeding efforts that produced the Dalmatian's spots, or the pug's flat snout, have also led to serious health problems. Certain prized bulldogs can't even give birth without human assistance. "Dogs have more genetic diseases than any other species on the planet," says Ishee. "So that's us. We did that." [...]
The new rules have larger companies concerned, too. Last December, a Minnesota biotechnology startup called Recombinetics fired off a letter to the FDA saying that it planned to start selling Holstein milk cows that it had genetically edited so that they wouldn't develop horns. But now Recombinetics's sizable investments are in doubt. Scott Fahrenkrug, the company's founder, says he is ready to fight what he thinks are irrational rules.
"I think it will be easier to teach dog breeders CRISPR than it will be to teach dog breeders why pure breeding is a bad thing."