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Gene editing makes pigs safer for human transplants

CRISPR/Cas9 method disables viruses that make organs hazardous

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4:38pm, October 12, 2015

LIFE SAVERS?  New gene-editing methods may make pig organs safe for human transplant. 

Recently developed methods for editing genes could make pig organs safe for human transplant.

Pig organs have not been used for transplant partly because they carry viruses that could infect people. Harvard researchers report October 11 in Science that they have used a powerful gene-editing tool to simultaneously disable 62 of the viruses.      

Pig cells contain multiple copies of embedded viruses called porcine endogenous retroviruses, or PERVs. Such viruses copy and paste themselves into pig DNA. If the retroviruses infected a person during or after a transplant, they could disrupt important human genes, leading to cancer or other diseases.                                          

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