The successful breeding of pigs which are resistant to Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) has been announced by the genetics company, Genus, linked to a long-standing research collaboration with the University of Missouri.
Although it will be at least five years until PRRS-resistant animals are available to farmers, the company has described the development as a “significant breakthrough” in combating “this devastating porcine disease”.
“Using precise gene editing, the University of Missouri was able to breed pigs that do not produce a specific protein necessary for the virus to spread in the animals,” said Genus. “The early stage studies conducted by the University demonstrate these PRRS-resistant pigs, when exposed to the virus, do not get sick and continue to gain weight normally.”
Genus added that it will continue to develop the technology over the next five years and that it intends to commercialise it through PIC, its porcine division.
Genus chief scientific officer, Dr Jonathan Lightner, said that the demonstration of genetic resistance to the PRRS virus by gene editing was a “potential game-changer for the pork industry”.
“There are several critical challenges ahead, as we develop and commercialise this technology,” he said. “The promise is clear, however, and we are committed to developing its potential.”