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Sacks of pungent animal feed cram the corridors of a Cyagen Biosciences Inc. center for laboratory mice in southern China, maximizing space for rodents that sell for as much as $17,000 a pair.

Demand is skyrocketing in China for animals that mimic the diseases of humans. President Xi Jinping’s drive to turn the country into a biomedical powerhouse by 2025 has pushed the country deeper into drug discovery and to the forefront of genetics. That is helping fuel a global market for gene-altered mice predicted to expand 7.5 percent a year to top $1.59 billion by 2022.

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