Thursday, October 8, 2015

New Gene-Editing Research Says Pigs Could Be Suitable Non-Human Donors

Headlines and Global News | Tyler MacDonald

The researchers modified genes that encode proteins that are known to activate the human immune system and prevent successful organ transfer into humans.

Researchers have created what they believe to be a suitable non-human organ donor by modifying more than 60 genes in pig embryos, according to Nature. The modifications represent a new world record - previously, only six genes have ever been modified in pig embryos.

Prior to the findings, scientists failed to create a steady supply of human transplant organs in pigs due to concerns about the human immune system and potential viruses in the pig genome.

"This is something I've been wanting to do for almost a decade," said George Church, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School who participated in the research.

Church and his colleagues used the gene-editing tool CRISPR to conduct the genetic modifications in the pig embryos to make them easier to transplant into humans, according to Popular Science.

Although Church is remaining quiet about the exact genes targeted in the work - as the findings are still unpublished - the modified genes are ones that encode proteins that are known to activate the human immune system as well as stimulate blood clotting. Continue reading

 

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