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CRISPR for Longer Cashmere Fibers

Researchers in China have disrupted the FGF5 gene, which regulates hair growth, in a breed of cashmere goats to yield animals with longer coarse outer hair and longer fine inner hair, New Scientist reports.

The researchers reported last year in Scientific Reports that they'd used the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system to target and disrupt FGF5 as well as MSTN, which is associated with muscle development, in one-cell stage Shannbei cashmere goats. In PLOS One, Yulin Chen from China's Northwest A&F University and colleagues examine the effect of the changes in these goats, now that they are older. They found that the goats have longer hair fiber lengths and that the diameter of the hair fibers remained unchanged. The fine undercoat hair is what's used cashmere wool and thin fibers is one of the wool's sought-after qualities, New Scientist adds.

Chen and colleagues also examined the germline cells of the edited goats to find that FGF5 and MSTN were disrupted there as well. New Scientist adds that the researchers have begun to breed the goats. "The offspring of the edited goats are four months old, and growing normally," first author Xiaolong Wang tells the magazine.