Crop Biotech Update

Gene-Edited Pigs Resist Major Viral Disease

March 1, 2017

Scientists from The University of Edinburgh have produced pigs that show resistance to Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), a major viral disease endemic in most pig producing countries worldwide, and estimated to have cost the pig industry in Europe more than €1.5 billion each year.

Previous studies indicated that the PRRS virus targets immune cells called macrophages. A molecule on the surface of these cells called CD163 plays a key role in enabling the PRRS virus to establish an infection.

The research team at the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute, in collaboration with Genus, used CRISPR/Cas9 editing tool to cut out a small section of the CD163 gene in the pigs' DNA code. Tests on cells from the pigs with modified CD163 gene showed that the change blocked the virus from causing the infection.

For more details, read the news release from The University of Edinburgh.