Genetically modified pig organs could allow donors to humans

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Xenotransplantation, is a process of transplant non-human tissues or organs into human recipients, has accelerated since the discovery of the CRISPR gene editing tool.

genetically modified pigs

Researchers made a significant breakthrough in transplant organ from pigs into humans after removing threatening viruses from the animal’s DNA. The new research developed by a team of scientists who successfully created genetically modified piglets free of 25 retroviruses, generally present in pigs but thought to cause harm to humans.

The first problem is pig organs provokes massive and destructive immune response in humans far more than an organ from another person. The second problem is pig genomes rife with DNA sequences of viruses that can infect human cells.

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However, solving these two problems has become much easier and much faster using gene-editing technology CRISPR. The other major problem for implanting pig organs into humans is retroviruses in the animals called Porcine Endogenous Retrovirus (PERV). These viruses remain of ancient viral infections and harmless in pigs.

transplant organs

To combat this problem, a team from Harvard University and a private company, eGenesis, created a gene-edited pig clones that are completely free of the retroviruses. Without the threat of these hidden diseases, it may possible to safely transplant pig livers, hearts, and other organs. This adds to the growing number of transplants that are already in relatively widespread use in medicine. These genetically altered pigs raised specifically for the harvesting of organs for transplant.

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According to reports from United Network for Organ Sharing, last year saw 33,600 organ transplants, with another 116,800-people waiting for suitable organs.

Also, there is a threat of organ rejection, even when the transplanted organ originated in another human. Scientists working to reduce the probability of this occurring. Emerging technologies, like CRISPR-Cas9 system of gene editing fame for getting researchers closer to rejection free transplants.

More information: [Science]

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