Biotech Updates

Scientists Develop Insulin-Deficient Pigs for Diabetes Research

April 25, 2018

Using pigs for diabetic research can be beneficial due to their similarity in size, pathogenesis pathway, physiology, and metabolism to humans. However, only a few pig models present diabetes symptoms. The team of Bumrae Cho from the Biotechnology Research Institute in South Korea has successfully developed insulin-deficient pigs by targeting the porcine INS gene in pigs using CRISPR-Cas9.

First, the team generated somatic cells carrying a CRISPR-Cas9-knocked-out INS gene. CRISPR achieved a targeting efficiency of 40.4%. From these cells, three live and five stillborn piglets were born. The INS-knockout piglets presented high blood glucose levels and glucose was detected in their urine. The level of insulin in the blood of INS-knockout piglets were constant after feeding and the expression of insulin in the pancreas was absent in these piglets.

This study demonstrates the application of CRISPR-Cas9 system in generating novel pig models. The insulin-deficient pigs can be used in diabetes research to test the efficacy and safety of new drugs and to investigate optimal transplantation strategies.

For more information, read the article in on Transgenic Research.