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June 2012

The three litters of Yucatan miniature piglets, born in late May, dwell in a space more like a neonatal care unit than a barn. They require hand-feeding and frequent veterinary attention from the staff at Exemplar Genetics in Sioux Center, Iowa. Their muscles already show the signs of deterioration that they were bred for.

As the United States’ first genetically engineered (GE) pigs with muscular dystrophy, the creatures could be used to test treatments for the disease. But their utility will remain limited for the time being, while the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) works out how to regulate them.