A University of Pittsburgh-led team has used gene technology to breed animals that produce fats. The animals of interest were taken as pigs and they had a key gene inserted in them.
The result was creation of a breed of pigs that had the capability to produce compounds useful for the heart.
AdvertisementAccording to researcher Dr Randy Prather said: "Pigs and humans have a similar physiology. We could use these animals as a model to see what happens to heart health if we increase the omega-3 levels in the body. It could allow us to see how that helps cardiovascular function."
To stimulate production of omega-3 fatty acids in pigs the researchers transferred a key gene into immature foetal cells that give rise to certain tissues in the fully-developed animal.
The gene - fat-1 - controls the conversion of more abundant omega-6 fats into the omega-3 form.
The pigs if put in the food chain could have a great effect on human health.
"First, the pigs could have better cardiovascular function and therefore live longer, which would limit livestock loss for farmers. Second, they could be healthier animals for human consumption."