Gene-edited pigs resistant to deadly virus may be ‘game-changer’ for pork producers

| | December 10, 2015
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Since the Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) virus first appeared in the U.S. in 1987, it has cost the U.S. pork industry roughly $10 billion. PRRS causes severe pneumonia or respiratory problems in newborn piglets and young pigs, resulting in a 20 percent to 80 percent mortality rate, and reproductive failure in sows.

Now, teams of researchers from the University of Missouri and Kansas State University have collaborated with experts from Genus plc to develop the first generation of pigs resistant to PRRS. . .

Raymond “Bob” Rowland, professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology at Kansas State University and another researcher on the project, praised the discovery, stressing that it not only will significantly improve animal well-bring but will also save hundreds of millions of dollars each year. In the U.S. alone, PRRS leads to annual losses of approximately $664 million.

“In the decades that we have had the PRRS virus, we have looked at vaccines, diagnostics and other strategies and we have never been able to eliminate the disease,” Rowland said. “This is the first time that we have established the potential to eliminate this devastating disease.”

The collaborative research appears in Nature Biotechnology in the article, “Gene-edited pigs are protected from porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus.”

“The demonstration of genetic resistance to the PRRS virus by gene editing is a potential game changer for the pork industry,” said Jonathan Lightner, Chief Scientific Officer and Head of R&D of Genus plc.

Read full, original post: PRRS-resistant pigs an industry “game-changer”

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