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Researchers at The Roslin Institute have used DNA editing technology to produce live pigs

The science behind 'pig26' has been published in Nature's online, open access journal Scientific Reports.

Pig 26

This work successfully applied molecular scissors which cut the genome at precise predetermined sites (termed DNA editing) with 'pig26' the first farm animal in the UK to have its genes edited.

Two types of molecular scissors were used in this study - ZFNs and TALENs. Both of these engineered enzymes cause site-specific cleavage of the genome. This is followed by repair of the DNA cut site by the cells natural DNA repair mechanism. This repair mechanism is error prone - hence the generation of mutations at the directed cleavage site.

Genome editing technology through the precise generation of advantageous genetic variation offers significant advantages over the traditional methodology.

Professor Bruce WhitelawResearch leader at The Roslin Institute

This innovative technology combines efficiency and precision - this combination enabling pre-determined, accurate changes to the genome of pigs. Previously demonstrated in combination with animal cloning technology (Carlson et al. 2012 PNAS 109, 17382-17387), this recent work demonstrates for the first time that gene editing can be performed in the fertilised egg (or zygote), thus significantly broadening the use of DNA editing tools in livestock. The successful production of 'pig26' represents the first step in a project addressing the pig disease African Swine Fever. Prof Whitelaw believes this technology could also be successfully applied to other pig diseases, including influenza, Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome and Foot and Mouth Disease.

This technology offers the real prospect of enhancing the ability of farm animals to combat disease.

Professor Bruce WhitelawResearch leader at The Roslin Institute

This research at The Roslin Institute involved international collaboration with the University of Minnesota, Recombinetics Inc and Genus plc with support from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).


Lillico et al. Live pigs produced from genome edited zygotes. Sci Rep 3 : 2847.:

Precision genome engineering in animals:

Highlighted as one of the 8 Great Technologies of the University of Edinburgh: