Aren’t hamsters the cutest? From their tiny eyes to their minuscule size, there are few pets more adorable. But what happens when scientists create gene-edited hamsters that end up becoming bloodthirsty monsters?
Well, that bizarre fantasy has become fact after a team of Georgia State University researchers played God. In an attempt to get rid of a hamster’s more aggressive genes, the scientists create a new rodent that’s more aggressive than ever.
Gene-Edited Hamsters are more aggressive
In an experiment by Professor of Neuroscience H. Elliott Albers and Professor Kim Huhman, gene editing was used to eliminate a hamster’s regular social behavior. By removing the hamsters’ Vasopressin, CRISPR-Cas9 splicing altered the regular social behaviours of syrian hamsters.
As mentioned earlier, the result was the exact opposite of what these two professors wanted. Rather than making these seemingly harmless house pets cuter, the hamsters became much more aggressive than expected. Aside from being more aggressive in general, the gene edited hamsters began acting more aggressive toward other hamsters of the same sex.
“We were really surprised at the results,” Albers told Georgia State University. “We anticipated that if we eliminated vasopressin activity, we would reduce both aggression and social communication. But the opposite happened.”
For those wondering why they would splice the genes of Syrian hamsters, it’s because their stress levels are the closest to human beings, at least when compared to other rodents. Syrian hamsters have become the go-to rodent when it comes to observing social behavior and finding ways to alter them.
“Their stress response is more like that of humans than it is other rodents. They release the stress hormone cortisol, just as humans do. They also get many of the cancers that humans get,” says Huhman. “Their susceptibility to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 makes them the rodent species of choice because they are vulnerable to it just as we are.”
It seems like more experiments will involve these cute little hamsters, meaning we could be this much closer to killer hamsters becoming a threat to all of humanity. We hope these researchers have some really strong cages to keep these hamsters on because if these experiments keep taking place, this world will be theirs soon. All hail hamsters!