Genome editing and engineering
We have used CRISPR to produce pigs that are potentially resistant to Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS).
Genome editing technologies, such as those based on CRISPR and TALENS, allow precision editing of genes and genomes such that single bases can be changed, as well as whole exons and genes removed, introduced or exchanged. Such technology will enable validation of causal variation underlying production-relevant traits in our other strategic programmes, as well as the identification of host genes influencing pathogen replication in genome-wide screens. It is also essential to our ability to test predictions of genetic networks that control important livestock traits and increase our basic understanding of developing and body systems (Theme 1 of Institute Strategic Programme on Blueprints for Healthy Animals).
In collaboration with ISP1, we have used CRISPR to produce pigs that are potentially resilient to Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS). Early tests have revealed that cells from the pigs are completely resistant to infection with two major subtypes of the virus that cause the disease. The animals are otherwise healthy and the change – introduced using gene-editing technology – should not affect their ability to fight off other infections.
We are also investigating use of genome editing for pig resistance to African Swine Fever and avian resistance to flu.
Precision engineering for PRRSV resistance in pigs: Macrophages from genome edited pigs lacking CD163 SRCR5 domain are fully resistant to both PRRSV genotypes while maintaining biological function. PLOS Pathogens 13, 2 (2017)
Pigs’ DNA altered in bid to tackle virus. Press release (2016).