A Step Closer To Safe Organ Transplants From Pigs!

Xenotransplantation, is the transplantation of living cells, tissues or organs from one species to another.The increasing demand for organs, tissues, and cells for purposes of clinical transplantation, and the relative lack of improvement in the number of deceased human organs that become available each year, have increased interest in the possibility of using organs and cells from an animal species.
With the advent of genetic engineering and cloning technologies, pigs are currently available with a number of different manipulations that protect their tissues from the human immune response, resulting in increasing pig graft survival in nonhuman primate models. 
CRISPR Scientists have for the first time removed a dangerous type of virus found in live pigs that could make it safe for potential organ transplants from pigs into humans.Genetically modified pigs offer hope of a limitless supply of organs and cells for more than 117,000 people in the United States who are on a waiting list for an organ, as of now more than 22 people dying each day waiting for a transplant.
The pig genome contains porcine endogenous retroviruses or PERVs. These dangerous viruses can be passed on to humans during a transplant, which has been the main obstacle in using animals to grow organs for us humans. Thanks to CRISPR gene editing technique as Pig cells in the lab had already been freed of PERVs but this is the first time it has been shown in living animals.
Pigs have long been thought to be excellent candidates for transplants due to similar sizes between their organs and ours. This process, xenotransplantation, has risks due to viruses from such animals. Some could be treated with medicines or vaccines but some has no way around that without gene editing.
The team discovered 25 locations in the pig’s fibroblast cells genome that led to the activation of PERVs. To inactivate these locations, they used CRISPR, a revolutionary gene editing technique that allows researchers to slice bits of DNA precisely. This approach led to having cells that were 90 percent free of PERVs, and by adding additional substances related to DNA repair they reached the amazing 100 percent free goal.
"This is the first publication to report on PERV-free pig production," said Dr Luhan Yang, co-founder and chief scientific officer at eGenesis in a statement. "This research represents an important advance in addressing safety concerns about cross-species viral transmission. Our team will further engineer the PERV-free pig strain to deliver safe and effective xenotransplantation."


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