Researchers used advanced genetic techniques to produce pigs that are potentially resilient to African Swine Fever.
The new pigs carry a version of a gene that is usually found in warthogs and bush pigs, which researchers believe may stop them from becoming ill from the infection.
The research is focused on one of the pig genes associated with African Swine Fever Virus infection called RELA. The gene causes the immune system to overreact with devastating effects.
Warthogs and bush pigs carry a different version of the RELA gene from that found in farmed pigs. Scientists believe that this variant – known as an allele – may dampen their immune response and explain why they are more resilient to African Swine Fever.
Researchers at the Roslin Institute used a gene-editing technique to modify individual letters of the pigs’ genetic code. By changing just five letters in their RELA gene, they converted it to the allele that is found in the warthog.
This latest study marks the first time researchers have successfully swapped alleles in an animal’s genetic code using gene editing.
Scientists will now conduct controlled trials to test whether the genetic changes have improved the pigs’ resilience to the disease.
Monday February 22, 2016/ Roslin Institute/ United Kingdom.