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Harvard scientist announces simultaneous editing of 62 genes in a single pig embryo using CRISPR / Cas9, a new record.

Stashed in: Harvard, Genomics, Medical Breakthroughs, CRISPR

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The edits were made to ease the immune response during transplantation from pig to human.

For decades, scientists and doctors have dreamed of creating a steady supply of human organs for transplantation by growing them in pigs. But concerns about rejection by the human immune system and infection by viruses embedded in the pig genome have stymied research. Now, by modifyingmore than 60 genes in pig embryos — ten times more than have been edited in any other animal — researchers believe they may have produced a suitable non-human organ donor.

The work was presented on 5 October at a meeting of the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in Washington DC on human gene editing. Geneticist George Church of Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, announced that he and colleagues had used the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology to inactivate 62 porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVs) in pig embryos. These viruses are embedded in all pigs’ genomes and cannot be treated or neutralized. It is feared that they could cause disease in human transplant recipients.

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