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