Gene editing used to eliminate viruses in pigs

CRISPR'd piglets from the eGenesis study.									eGenesis

CRISPR'd piglets from the eGenesis study. eGenesis

Pig organs have always been eyed as transplant options for humans, as the organs are about the same size and pigs are plentiful, but it's been challenging to overcome the human immune system's possible rejection of such organs.

The research was an "important advance" in addressing safety concerns about possible viral transmission during organ transplantation, eGenesis chief scientific officer Luhan Yang said. Work would continue, he said, to ensure "safe and effective" organ transplants.

Scientists' goal is to alleviate the shortage of available organs for human transplant.

Demand for organs for human transplant significantly exceeds supply.

Scientists may have stumbled upon a solution to stop the 500 people who die in the United Kingdom every year waiting for an organ transplant - pigs. The organs are almost the same size and function similarly enough to human organs that scientists think it could work.

Robin Weiss of University College London, who first discovered PERVs, says there are other viruses in the pig genome that could theoretically jump across to people, so although the risk of cancer or other problems has been reduced, it has not been completely eliminated.

Now they might have even more use for humans.

Entrega PGJ CDMX a niño Antony al DIF
Una familia temporal y solidaria con hijos en edad escolar, que integran un núcleo familiar, es favorable para Anthony . Anthony , se indicó, se encuentra recuperándose física y emocionalmente, está contento, jugando y muy tranquilo.

Human patients have received heart valves, skin or pancreas cells from pigs, but not full organs.

To produce piglets, the researchers then employed a standard cloning technique, inserting the DNA-containing nuclei of these edited cells into egg cells taken from the ovaries of pigs at a Chinese slaughterhouse, which allowed each egg to develop into an embryo and implanted it in the uterus of a surrogate mother.

"We want to create a world where there is no organ shortage", Yang said.

Pig organs are the same size as human organs and function pretty much the same way but pig to human transplantation has always been an elusive goal for researchers due to fear of activating dormant viral diseases in the pig's cells.

The 15 black-headed piglets, born in a lab in southwest China's Yunnan Province, do not carry the active infectious viral gene which has impeded the process of pig-to-human transplantation for more than a decade, said Chinese members of an global research team who released their findings Friday. The waiting list for organ transplants is now about 120,000 individuals long, which is twice as long as it was in 1999.

He said: "The viruses are particularly troubling". But Church and his colleagues ended up with 15 living piglets, the oldest now 4 months old.

The BBC reports on the study in the journal Science, noting this "exciting and promising first step" toward xenotransplantation, in which organs are transplanted between different species.