Scientists have created gene-edited pigs that are immune to a major disease

Scientists have created gene-edited pigs that are immune to a major disease

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Gene-edited pigs that seem to be immune to one of the industry’s biggest diseases, PRRS, have been created by scientists at the University of Edinburgh.

PRRS costs farmers in Europe £1 billion a year because of the health problems it causes – including breathing issues in piglets and reproductive trouble in females.

The researchers used a technique called CRISPR/Cas9, which allows them to specifically target a certain problematic gene, and cut and paste a preferable one into its place.

They used this to target and disable a gene that allows the PRRS virus to damage the pig’s immune system.
More work needs to be done to ensure the pigs themselves are resistant to the disease, but early tests show the pig’s individual cells are fully immune.

Lead scientist Professor Alan Archibald said: “Genome-editing offers opportunities to boost food security by reducing waste and losses from infectious diseases, as well as improving animal welfare by reducing the burden of disease.”

The findings are published in the journal Public Library Of Science Pathogens.

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