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posted by martyb on Friday August 11, @09:31AM   Printer-friendly
from the bacon++ dept.

eGenesis Bio, a startup co-founded by George Church and Luhan Yang, has used CRISPR/Cas9 to inactivate Porcine Endogenous Retrovirus (PERV) in piglets. It is one step towards the creation of pig organs that could be transplanted into humans:

"This is the first publication to report on PERV-free pig production," Yang, who is chief scientific officer at Egenesis, said in a news release. [...] There are two huge hurdles to getting animal-organ transplants to successfully work in humans — a process known as xenotransplantation. The first, Yang told Business Insider in March, is the virology, or the fact that pigs carry genes encoded with viruses that could transmit disease to humans — that's the PERV genes that Egenesis is working to deactivate.

The second hurdle, she said, is the immunology. Since the pig organ would be foreign to the body, the person's immune system might try to kick it out, rejecting the organ. Those proved too challenging for a slew of researchers going after this subject in the 1990s [open, DOI: 10.4103/0970-1591.33729] [DX]. Ideally, CRISPR will help tackle those issues "that were insurmountable before," Yang said. "We think the advancement of gene editing can help us address both of them," Yang said.

Also at MIT and The New York Times (picture of cute piglets ready for harvest).

Inactivation of porcine endogenous retrovirus in pigs using CRISPR-Cas9 (DOI: 10.1126/science.aan4187) (DX)


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Scientists Create "Low-Fat" Pigs Using CRISPR 25 comments

Scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences have used the CRISPR gene editing technique to create pigs with less body fat. The GMO pigs may be better from both a cost and animal welfare standpoint:

Here's something that may sound like a contradiction in terms: low-fat pigs. But that's exactly what Chinese scientists have created using new genetic engineering techniques.

In a paper [DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1707853114] [DX] published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists report that they have created 12 healthy pigs with about 24 percent less body fat than normal pigs.

The scientists created low-fat pigs in the hopes of providing pig farmers with animals that would be less expensive to raise and would suffer less in cold weather. "This is a big issue for the pig industry," says Jianguo Zhao of the Institute of Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, who led the research. "It's pretty exciting."

[...] The animals have less body fat because they have a gene that allows them to regulate their body temperatures better by burning fat. That could save farmers millions of dollars in heating and feeding costs, as well as prevent millions of piglets from suffering and dying in cold weather. "They could maintain their body temperature much better, which means that they could survive better in the cold weather," Zhao said in an interview.

Previously: "Double-Muscled" Pigs Created Using Simple Gene Modification
eGenesis Bio Removes PERV From Pigs Using CRISPR
PETA Claims That Cambodian Farmers Are Breeding "Double-Muscled" Mutant Pigs


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  • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Friday August 11, @10:20AM (3 children)

    by kaszz (4211) on Friday August 11, @10:20AM (#552224) Journal

    Great, use gene editing to remove PERV retrovirus and make the cells have the right protein surface so the organ gets accepted. Then have another missed retrovirus get acclimatized with human biology and you got a zoonosis with a patient zero that will introduce it to the global population.

    The ultimate approach is to clone the cells and 3D print organs. That way you don't have as much "oops" with the health of billions at stake.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 11, @01:36PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 11, @01:36PM (#552259)

    I didn't even know that pervy pigs were an issue people cared about.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 12, @02:09AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 12, @02:09AM (#552697)

      CRISPR Bacon.

  • (Score: 2) by anotherblackhat on Friday August 11, @01:57PM

    by anotherblackhat (4722) on Friday August 11, @01:57PM (#552269)

    (To the tune of Mr. Sandman)
    CRISPR-Cas9
    Bring me a gene
    Encoding for a specific protein
    Make a few snips at this coded locus
    You work so well inside a streptococcus
    Cas9
    I'm so alone
    Without your scissors in my chromosome
    Cut me up and do it clean
    CRISPR-Cas9 bring me a gene

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k99bMtg4zRk [youtube.com]

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