New gene-edited pigs may now be resistant to billion-dollar disease

gene edit pigs crispr ucdavispig wr
Scientists think they have edited made pigs resistant to a billion-dollar virus by editing susceptibility out of the genome.

Using a revolutionary new tool called CRISPR/Cas9, the team of researchers from the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute in Scotland, and animal biotech company Genus have create piglets that lack a portion of the gene that makes them susceptible to Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS). They published a paper detailing their work last week in the journal PLOS Pathogens.

“The PRRS virus is one of the most problematic diseases in pork production, and is not well controlled by traditional methods such as vaccines and medications,” Jonathan Lightner, chief scientific officer for Genus, told Digital Trends. “The impacts of the disease for producers are often devastating, and the impacts on the animals themselves are terrible as well.”

For pigs, PRRS can cause miscarriages and severe breathing problems. For pig farmers, the disease costs nearly $1.6 billion every year in Europe alone.

Lab tests conducted on cells with the modified gene so far show that the cells resist infection when exposed to the PRRS virus. Next steps will entail testing resistance in the pigs themselves.

Previous studies led by Genus created pigs that lacked the entire CD163 gene, through which the virus is able to infect the animal. In this study, the researchers have refined their edit and only removed the small portion of the CD163 gene that interacts with the virus.

The research was made possible thanks to CRISPR, a relatively new tool that lets scientists add traits to an animal without having to introduce foreign DNA, by making exact edits to specific gene locations.

“CRISPR has made it simpler and faster to make the sorts of very precise changes to genes like those described in the paper with Roslin,” Lightner said. “These precise changes could be made in the past, with other gene editing reagents, but often were very challenging to create, and progress took many years. Today these changes can be made quickly and precisely on timescales of many months, rather than years or even longer.”

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (March 2019)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this winter with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Legion'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.

4 women innovators who are using tech to help others live better lives

Meet four women leaders who are not only at the forefront of technology today, but also using tech — from robotics and medicine to food and undergarments — to help others.

British Airways’ new Club Suite for business class comes with a door

British Airways is going after a bigger slice of the business class market with the imminent launch of the Club Suite. The plush seating option offers a more private space as well as an easier route to the bathroom.
Smart Home

Sony’s Aibo robot dog can now patrol your home for persons of interest

Sony released the all-new Aibo in the U.S. around nine months ago, and since then the robot dog has (hopefully) been melting owners' hearts with its cute looks and clever tricks. Now it has a new one up its sleeve.
Emerging Tech

The U.S. Army is building a giant VR battlefield to train soldiers virtually

Imagine if the U.S. Army was able to rehearse battlezone scenarios dozens, or even hundreds, or times before settling foot on actual terrain. Thanks to virtual reality, that's now a possibility.
Emerging Tech

Inflating smart pills could be a painless alternative to injections

Could an inflating pill containing hidden microneedles replace painful injections? The creators of the RaniPill robotic capsule think so — and they have the human trials to prove it.
Emerging Tech

A silver bullet is being aimed at the drug-resistant superbugs on the ISS

A bacteria which is benign here on Earth can mutate into a drug-resistant superbug once it enters space. Now this problem is being tackled by a team of microbiologists who have found a way to inhibit the spread of bacteria in the ISS.
Emerging Tech

Tombot is the hyper-realistic dog robot that puts Spot to shame

Forget Boston Dynamics’ Spot! When it comes to robot dogs, the folks behind a new Kickstarter campaign have plans to stake their claim as makers of man’s (and woman’s) newest best friend.
Emerging Tech

Researchers gave alligators headphones and ketamine, and all for a good cause

Researchers in Germany and the United States recently gave ketamine and earphones to alligators to monitor how they process sounds. Here's what it reveals about alligator evolution.
Emerging Tech

Cheese tastes different when it listens to Led Zeppelin, Swiss study finds

A funky new study says that exposing cheese to music changes its aroma and flavor. What’s more, the genre of music matters. Researchers from the Bern University of Arts played music to nine, 22-pound wheels of Emmental cheese.
Emerging Tech

Astronomers plan to beam Earth’s greatest hits into deep space, and you can help

A new project from the SETI Institute (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) will give the public the chance to submit compositions to be beamed into space, with the aim of connecting people around the world through music.
Emerging Tech

Twitter is officially a teenager now. Are we raising a monster?

On March 21, 2006, Jack Dorsey sent the first ever tweet. Thirteen years later, Twitter has fundamentally changed the way we communicate. Here are some of the myriad ways it's done that.