The shortage of donor organs is a serious problem for thousands of patients on the transplant waiting list. The problem was solved by Chinese researchers who edited the genome of pigs, providing a record level of compatibility of their tissues with the human body. The experiment was completed successfully, and soon it is planned to start clinical trials on patients.
Chinese company Qihan Bio used the CRISPR technique, also called "genetic scissors", to grow pigs with tissues that have all the necessary properties for successful transplantation to humans. Genetic modification was required to "clean" the DNA of animals from traces of viruses that cause rejection when transplanting their tissues to humans. To prevent this process, scientists edited 13 genes - this allowed to suppress the immune response of the human body during transplantation and regulate the level of blood clotting.
After a series of complex manipulations with DNA, embryos with new genes were created, transplanted to "surrogate mothers". The cells of the born piglets underwent another modification - as a result, a generation of pigs was born, whose tissues can "bypass" the protection of the human immune system and effectively take root. In 2020, the company intends to focus on additional research, and the start of clinical trials with pig organ transplants in humans is planned to begin within the next five years.