Image credit: Adrian Scottow

Scientists managed in the early 1990s to genetically modify pigs so that their organs could be surgically inserted into humans without causing acute rejection.

This was celebrated as a major breakthrough that would possibly imply that surgeons would be able to transplant organs from pigs to humans, including the heart, kidney, and liver.

Then came the backlash.

Virologists discovered that the pig genome contains residues of a virus that can infect human cells and fear of contagion darkened any attempts to move parts between pigs and humans.

Now, researchers in the U.S. and China have cleared all 62 copies of PERV viral DNA in kidney cells from a pig using the new genetic method called CRISPR / Cas9.

In addition, they transferred the cells’ genetic material into pig embryos. The company eGenesis in Boston, USA, is now developing technologies for effective treatments.

Genome-wide inactivation of porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVs)