Project Aims to Introduce New Commercial Traits in Cattle Derived from Elite Genetic Lines

Acceligen, a Recombinetics company, and Kheiron-Biotech, a Proinvesa Group company, are teaming up on a series of projects in Argentina that intends to produce multiple animal product lines to solve existing concerns in the cattle industries. These combined efforts will leverage the range of complementary expertise available within the research and development portfolio of each company, which includes an understanding of breeding commercially viable animals. The intended end goal of this strategic alignment will be commercializing precision-bred founder animals that generate highly valued germplasm products for the global market with an initial emphasis on adaptability traits for climate change. The use of Acceligen’s gene-editing platform, combined with Kheiron’s in vitro embryo production, cloning, and gene-editing platform and infrastructure, will allow single generation production of market-ready animals without sacrificing diversity and estimated breeding values for performance.

Part of the challenge in using gene editing and cloning methods for genetic improvement is commercial acceptance of innovative breeding. In Argentina, this is made possible, in part, by their Ministry of Agriculture’s modernized approach to regulation of gene-edited animals. Ultimately, both companies view this as a unique opportunity to solve pressing challenges in health, welfare, productivity, and sustainability in animal farming in Argentina and beyond.

Kheiron Biotech’s Chief Scientific Officer, Gabriel Vichera, Ph.D., states, “We are working in a new concept called precisión-in vitro breeding, which consists in identifying genes of interest that naturally exist in certain animals, to generate offspring with these sequences by gene editing and cloning in the laboratory. This is the beginning of a much larger project in which we will be able to obtain livestock with different characteristics such as higher protein content, animal welfare, resistance to diseases and adaptability to adverse climatic conditions.”

Acceligen’s lead for these projects, Tad Sonstegard, Ph.D., Chief Executive and Scientific Officer, states, “Acceligen is constantly examining how to deploy our breeding technologies globally to help producers better meet the demands of consumers and the environment while improving the health and well-being of the animals that provide us meat and milk. Both the technical expertise and platform support provided by Kheiron-Biotech gives both companies the capability to meet these demands in a country with the highest standards for germplasm distribution globally and a pragmatic science-based regulatory system that clearly supports innovation opportunities.”

AgroPartners Consulting Director, José Fernando Garcia, DVM, M.Sc. and Ph.D, who initiated the contact between these companies, refers to Acceligen-Kheiron Biotech joint initiative as, “the first concrete step towards the commercial application of precision breeding techniques in beef and dairy cattle for a strategic area of the world where tropically adapted, highly productive cattle germplasm is required. These projects have the potential to change concepts and break paradigms of sustainably producing quality products in harsh environments”.