Virus-resistant CRISPR pigs could save pork producers $600 million per year

Kate Morgan c Jim Varney x

To pig farmer Thomas Titus, new scientific techniques could bring better disease resistance for his herd, saving baby pigs and potentially millions of dollars for the pork industry.

That is the foremost benefit “when I think about the possibilities of CRISPR (also called CRISPR-Cas9, the leading gene editing technique) and how it could help my farm,” says Titus, who raises corn, soybeans and pigs near Elkhart, Ill.

The devastating PRRS virus causes disease in two ways: a respiratory form that weakens young pigs’ ability to breathe and a more severe reproductive form that causes pigs to die during late pregnancy. In North America alone, PRRS is estimated to costs producers $600 million annually.

“As a pig farmer, I see that one of the greatest diseases that impacts every pig farm across the United States is PRRS (porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome). If there’s an opportunity for us to eradicate diseases like that – or have resistance to diseases like that – it would be just astronomical!”

Indeed, at least two companies say they can deliver just what Titus says he wants. Both Genus, which owns a patent to its technique, and Acceligen, a division of Recombinetics, also involved in developing the trait, report they can infuse pigs with PRRS resistance.

Read full, original post: Protecting the herd: New opportunities through gene editing

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