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Gene Deletion Induces Resistance to PRRS in Swine -Potential for other species?


Acceligen Inc. has created a gene-edited pig using CRISPR-cas9 technology.  By deleting specific genes, modified pigs are resistant to porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS).  The technology has the potential to prevent a disease that potentially causes in excess of $500 million in annual losses. The technology is based on deletion of specific genes and does not involve insertion of genetic material.


The overarching question is whether consumers will accept pork products from a hog modified by gene deletion, even if approved by the USDA.  It is presumed that Acceligen has carefully evaluated the concept with appropriate consumer surveys and in consultation with major retailers.   


The significance in the presumed acceptance of gene deletion may open up possibilities for egg production.  Of three technologies capable of resolving the problem of unwanted cockerel chicks, genetic marking of the Z chromosome of hens with a green fluorescent protein appears to be the most simple and elegant method of gender separation.  The EggXYt technology is, however on hold since primary breeders are reluctant to allow genetic modification of a great- grandparent line necessary to implement the program.  Alternatives, including assay of estrone, as used in the SELEGGT system, DNA analysis as in the PlantEgg system, hyperspectral analysis (Cheggy System) are all commercially practical modalities but requiring capital investment in hatchery installations. 


If genetic modification of hogs is accepted by consumers, advancement in efficiency may be expedited with benefits to both producers and consumers in terms of cost and sustainability.  Perhaps the success of the Acceligen gene-edited strain resistant to PRRS may provide impetus for acceptance in other livestock and poultry industries.