Three Little [Gene-Edited] Pigs Are Immune to Problematic Viruses

Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) gives pigs a fever and cough, but it costs American swine farmers over $600 million a year. Vaccines have been ineffective at fighting it, as has breeding pigs to be resistant. Last year, researchers in the Midwest used CRISPR-Cas9-based gene engineering to generate pigs that lack CD163, the protein that PRRS uses to infect its target cells in pigs. Now, the same team just demonstrated that the pigs lacking the receptor don’t get sick when exposed to PRRS.

Source: Three little (gene-edited) pigs are immune to problematic viruses

While the science is pretty cool, in some ways I’m more interested to see how this type of manipulation is going to play out in terms of IP law. I presume it means that pig farmers will have to purchase a license and will be forbidden to breed the animals (or be fined for any hybrids found on their property), based on how it’s worked out in the corn industry.

I’m a bit skeptical of the statement that knocking out CD163 did not affect the pigs in any adverse way. In humans, the function of CD163 is:

as an acute phase-regulated receptor involved in the clearance and endocytosis of hemoglobin/haptoglobin complexes by macrophages, and may thereby protect tissues from free hemoglobin-mediated oxidative damage. This protein may also function as an innate immune sensor for bacteria and inducer of local inflammation.

I wonder if these knockout pigs might be more at risk for other diseases. The pigs were sacrificed at 1 month, so I doubt the researchers know yet.

Pigs Are Much, Much Weirder Than You Ever Realized

Did you know that in the Old West, people used to have pig drives, the same way they had cattle drives? They marched huge herds of pigs across the country to be slaughtered. Also, pigs attack and kill people every year, including one man who was pinned to his tractor. We have a very strange relationship with pigs. A new book, Lesser Beasts by Mark Essig, tells you everything you need to know about the fascinating history of swine. You’ll learn how much you really have in common with pigs, plus everything else that you didn’t know you wanted to know.

Source: Pigs Are Much, Much Weirder Than You Ever Realized

You reap what you sow.   This boars me, but I shouldn’t hog all the humor… 🙂