NASHVILLE -- Cargill and MMI Genomics, Inc. have launched two new breeding tools for the cattle industry: Tru-Marbling(TM) and Tru-Tenderness(TM).

These products are the result of a collaborative research and product development project spanning more than four years between Cargill and MMI Genomics, a wholly-owned subsidiary of MetaMorphix Inc.

Based on MetaMorphix's Genius-Whole Genome System(TM), Tru-Marbling and Tru-Tenderness are DNA-based selection products that allow livestock breeders to accurately determine the genetic potential of beef cattle to express these desirable traits. Breeders can use these products to optimize matings that accelerate genetic progress for individual cattle production operations and for entire breeds.

In addition, these trait-specific tests can eliminate the need to perform expensive and time-consuming progeny testing on unproven bulls. Cattle operations could see substantial increases in profitability as animals with favorable genetics receive premium pricing.

Cargill and MMI Genomics have a joint exhibit at the 2007 NCBA Trade Show Jan. 31 through Feb. 3 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville.

Working together since 2002, the companies first conducted a whole genome association study in a population of commercial beef cattle to identify specific regions in the cattle genome associated with desirable beef traits. This was the first such study completed in livestock. Once the predictive markers were discovered for marbling and tenderness, the companies conducted further testing to validate their discoveries. That study was completed in 2006 and the predictive ability of the markers was confirmed.

"Tru-Marbling and Tru-Tenderness will be valuable tools for livestock owners to make breeding decisions that ultimately can lead to the production of superior cattle and beef," said Ben Brophy, manager of value-added alliances for Cargill Meat Solutions, a subsidiary of Cargill. "The testing process is easy to use, and provides timely feedback."

Edwin C. Quattlebaum, co-chairman and CEO of MetaMorphix, said, "These are the only DNA-based products in the marketplace that account for a significant proportion of the genetic variation of a complex trait.

"Breeders can now make accurate and informed decisions about their herds, which will lead to more economical and efficient operations. In the end, it is the consumer who will realize the most benefit, because they will have consistent and improved meat products."

MetaMorphix Inc. is a life sciences company dedicated to discovering and commercializing multiple technology platforms to improve human and animal health. The company and its corporate partners are developing products to substantially increase livestock quality and production efficiency, to improve companion animal health, and to treat human muscle degenerative diseases and metabolic disorders utilizing MetaMorphix's animal genomics and growth differentiation factors (GDFs) technologies. MetaMorphix was founded in 1994; it has headquarters in Beltsville, Md., and lab facilities in Davis, Calif.

Cargill is an international provider of food, agricultural and risk management products and services. With 149,000 employees in 63 countries, the company is committed to using its knowledge and experience to collaborate with customers to help them succeed.

SOURCE: MetaMorphix, Inc. via Business Wire.