Transplant Organs from Gene-Edited Pigs; Milestone Achieved

Cloned pigs are a big step toward alleviating the shortage transplant organs

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PiglesteGenesis
eGenesis

Today a team associated with the biotech startup eGenesis published an article in Science demonstrating gene editing techniques that allowed for the cloning of 15 retrovirus-free piglets.

The breakthrough might one day soon allow for the use of pig organs for human transplant. What a fantastic time to be alive!

About 22 Americans die each day waiting for a transplant. Making human-compatible pig organs could go a long way toward alleviating the shortage of transplant organs.

Pig organs are essentially the right size for transplantation to replace damaged organs in humans. Unfortunately, there are two problems standing in the way. First, human immune systems speedily reject transplated pig organs. And second, the genomes of pigs are loaded up with endogenous retroviruses (PERV) that might become activated and cause diseases after organs have been transplanted.

Rejection occurs because pig organs are decorated with carbohydrate molecules that human antibodies recognize as foreign and then attack. Today the New York Times notes that other researchers have already had some success in using gene-editing to clone pigs without the tell-tale porcine carbohydrates. They have successfully transplanted hearts and kidneys taken from their gene-edited pigs into monkeys and baboons who have so far lived more than year. eGenesis says that it is working to combine the two advances.

The inactivation of PERV prevents cross-species viral transmission. This breakthrough in producing the first PERV-free pigs is an important milestone for xenotransplantation. The team used the precise CRISPR genome-editing technique to eradicate all PERV activity in pig skin cells which were then used to clone PERV-free pigs.

The researchers next aim to overcome the problem of immune rejection.

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  1. Forget new kidneys, when can I get a pork belly transplant? Because I assume the addition of bacon would make me way more awesome.

    1. Come on, admit it. You already have a pork belly.

  2. How is this being received by the police unions? Also PERV-free pigs? C’mon give me a break!

  3. You know who else was PERV free?

    1. No one here.

    2. Me! I am 100% normal, 100% PERV free!

      1. That’s not what she said.

    3. The Abbottabad compound… After DEVGRU paid a visit, anyway.

  4. CRISPR bacon.

    1. I just heard the Mic drop….

      1. I was working on a pertinent jest before I read what Anomalous typed….

        Anomalous, you stymied my efforts.

  5. And second, the genomes of pigs are loaded up with endogenous retroviruses (PERV) that might become activated and cause diseases after organs have been transplanted.

    They have successfully transplanted hearts and kidneys taken from their gene-edited pigs into monkeys and baboons who have so far lived more than year. eGenesis says that it is working to combine the two advances.

    I wonder if these animals are being fed their normal diet or if anybody’s attempted to feed them pork. Seems like, especially with the PERV genes swapped out, they’d be susceptible to diseases not normally accounted for in either the baboon (or human) diet/environment, the (modern) pig diet/environment, or both.

    I mean, it’s kinda known/established that all manner of viral DNA, through a variety of means, will reach your organs and that swine flu is the rarity rather than the norm, but not clear that you wouldn’t be susceptible to both human and swine viruses. Not that it eGenesis’ work shouldn’t proceed, just that functional organs vs. immunosuppresion vs. pork consumption would be a weighty decision, especially if the organs don’t last as long as homospecial or mechanical alternatives.

  6. There is the ick factor.

  7. Pig parts to be used on people!

  8. Or, you know, Congress could just cease their ban on selling your organs. That would drive prices down once people realized that burying people who have perfectly function organs (that are highly in demand) makes no sense.

    So this is just tech “progress” that wouldn’t exist without governmental interference. These scientists could be doing something useful with their time (that could save people who aren’t dying due to government diktat).

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