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Crop Biotech Update

Researchers Produce Virus-Resistant Pigs

October 31, 2018

Researchers at the University of Missouri (MU), together with Kansas State University and Genus plc, have successfully developed a litter of pigs that are genetically resistant to a deadly porcine virus.

The Transmissible Gastroenteritis Virus (TGEV) commonly infects the intestines of pigs, causing almost 100 percent mortality in young pigs. The research team succeeded in breeding pigs that are resistant to TGEV through gene editing. Previous studies have identified the ANPEP enzyme as a potential receptor for TGEV. The team led by Randall Prather edited the gene responsible for making the ANPEP enzyme, resulting in a litter of seven pigs with a "null" gene that did not produce the enzyme. When exposed to the TGEV virus, these pigs did not become infected, showing that the presence of the ANPEP enzyme is necessary for an infection and gene editing can create pigs that are resistant.

In comparison to gene mutations that occur naturally during the reproductive process, researchers only altered the expression of a single gene in this study. Those pigs lacking the enzyme were healthy and did not experience developmental changes. 

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