Martes, 17 Octubre, 2017

Gene-Editing Success Brings Pig-to-Human Transplants Closer to Reality

Three piglets huddled together One day these little piggies could give you more than just bacon Luhan Yang Egenesis
Gezane Tiscareno | Agosto 14, 2017, 00:09

Scientists have successfully edited the genetic code of piglets to remove dormant viral infections, a breakthrough that could eventually pave the way for animal-to-human organ transplants.

Scientists have for the first time eliminated a risky type of virus found in live pigs that could make it safe for potential organ transplants into humans. "Our team will further engineer the PERV-free pig strain to deliver safe and effective xenotransplantation".

Scientists could be just two years away from transplanting animal organs into people, a new study has suggested. More than 117,000 people are on the waiting list for organ transplants in the US, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

"Porcine organs are considered favorable resources for xenotransplantation since they are similar to human organs in size and function, and can be bred in large numbers", the researchers wrote in a study published Thursday in the journal Science. In partnership with United Therapeutics, the group has already built a farm for gene-edited pigs. "There is so much desperation among people on transplant lists, and 20 a day are dying as they wait", said Dr. Adam Griesemer, a xenotransplantation researcher and transplant surgeon at Columbia University Medical Center.

Harvard University researcher doctor Luhan Yang told the BBC that the pigs are the most genetically modified in existence.

The team first confirmed that PERVs in pig cells can be transmitted to human cells when cultured together. Knocking out three in particular could protect pig organs from being attacked by the human immune system, he said; lab macaques that received kidneys from the pigs have survived as long as 499 days.

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"The viruses are particularly troubling", said Prof Church. But it may be years before enough is known about the safety of pig organ transplants to allow them to be used widely.

The availability of organs for transplant is a matter of life and death for thousands of patients.

Society might have a broad acceptance of consuming them in the form of pork and bacon, but the idea of stitching pig tissues into our bodies is a whole other ball game.

A major obstacle until now has been the cancer viruses embedded in pigs' DNA, which are capable of making the jump to human cells. Earlier, we demonstrated the feasibility of inactivating PERV activity in an immortalized pig cell line.

From about 200-330 embryos per sow transferred across to 17 sows, they produced 37 piglets, of which 15 remained alive up to four months.

Gene editing became less favorable for 54 percent of respondents if scientists used human embryos as test subjects in developing gene editing techniques, Pew found.