After a thorough antivirus scan, de-bugged pigs are a step closer to growing organs for us.
Researchers used the latest gene editing technology to deactivate 25 remnants of ancient viruses, called porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVs), that had embedded in the DNA of a pig cell line. Pig genomes are rife with lurking PERVs, which threaten to emerge and infect humans. But with a genome wiped of active viruses, the researchers produced 37 piglets that are PERV-free. The creation of those clean little porkers, reported Thursday in Science, is progress toward using pigs as human organ donors, the researchers say.
“Our study highlighted the value of PERV inactivation to prevent cross-species viral transmission and demonstrated the successful production of PERV-inactivated animals to address the safety concern in clinical xenotransplantation,” the authors concluded.