A new research open the door to organ transplants from animals, researchers have created gene-edited piglets cleansed of viruses that might cause disease in humans.
Research paper published in the journal Science, may make it possible one day to transplant livers, hearts and other organs from pigs into humans, a hope that experts had all but given up. Pigs are particularly promising for xenotransplantation as their organs are a similar size to humans', and the animals can be bred in large numbers.
But removing the viruses is only half the challenge, even organs donated from other people can cause a strong immune reaction that leads to the transplant being rejected.
In the 1990s, scientists explored using pig organs for human transplants, but they discovered that pig DNA contained hidden genes for viruses that are similar to those that cause leukemia in monkeys. When they grew pig cells alongside human embryonic kidney cells in lab tests, the viruses spread to human cells. Once they were infected with these retroviruses, the human cells could then infect other human cells with them.