Monday, October 12, 2015

'The creatures outside looked from pig to man ...'

The good news:
"A gene-editing method could one day make pig organs suitable for use in people, scientists say. Prof George Church and colleagues used a technique called Crispr to alter the DNA of pig cells to create a better match for humans. The early work, in the journal Science, aims to address concerns about rejection and infection by viruses embedded in pig DNA. If successful, it could be an answer to the shortage of human donor organs."
The details:
"Crispr is a relatively new scientific tool that lets scientists snip and play around with the code of life - DNA. Prof Church, from Harvard University, used it to inactivate a retrovirus present in the pig cell line. This porcine endogenous retrovirus is potentially risky because it can infect human cells - at least in the lab. In tests on early pig embryos, Prof Church was able to eliminate all 62 copies of porcine endogenous retroviruses from the pig cells using Crispr. Next, he checked if the modified pig cells would still easily pass the retrovirus on to human cells. They did not, although there was still a small amount of transmission. Prof Church says the discovery holds great promise for using animal organs in people - what doctors call xenotransplantation."
... and the less good news:
"Years more research is needed before genetically modified pigs could be bred to grow organs for people."
Tough, of course, on the animals, but how many of us agonise on the subject of bacon?


Subsequent my recent post (poor gym performance) I can confirm that today, Clare is snuffling like a cow-threatening badger while I'm nursing a sore throat and doing that limp man-thing.


If they ever make "The Martian 2" do you think the star will be Jeremy Clarkson in a reasonably priced MAV together with a maddeningly-chirpy sidekick and a gormless, nerdy sparring partner?