Chinese researchers create disease-resistant pig species

Scientists have found pig species that can resist three major infectious diseases plaguing the animal using gene-editing technology.
PHOTO: Reuters

Chinese scientists have produced a pig species that can resist three major infectious diseases plaguing the animal using gene-editing technology, the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences said on Tuesday.

The species is the only one in the world that can resist porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus and transmissible gastroenteritis virus, two highly infectious and lethal viruses that can cause huge losses to pig production, and shows decreased susceptibility to porcine deltacoronavirus, which can result in deadly diarrhea in piglets, said the academy, the leading researcher.

Meanwhile, the genetically modified pig has normal meat-production and reproductive performance, based on years of study, the academy said.

The research is expected to provide a new solution to the breeding of new disease-resistant pig species, it said.

Currently there are no safe and effective methods to prevent or control the three diseases.

Last year alone, various types of animal infectious diseases caused hundreds of billions dollars of loss to the pig industry worldwide, the academy said.

Researchers created the pig species by gene-editing that inactivated two proteins that serve as doorway for pigs to be infected with the three viruses.

The research, jointly conducted by institutes including Huazhong Agricultural University, in Wuhan, China and University of Guelph, Canada, was published online on international biology journal eLife in early September.