Monday, April 9, 2018

Overcoming Livestock Disease Through Gene Editing

The livestock industry may be on the brink of an effective tool to fight against disease thanks to geneticists at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh. Professor Eleanor Riley and her team have recently identified the gene in pigs that allows viruses to enter the cell. By removing this gene from a pig's DNA resulted in these animals to become resistant to common diseases like Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus (PRRSV) which affects the livestock industry roughly $170 million every year. This same approach has also been used at the Roslin Institute to identify the gene that provides resistance against avian flu in chickens. With the final trail yet to be published, the livestock industry is anxious to see the results. According to Eleanor Riley, it would only take three to five years to produce these disease resistant animals into the livestock community. This could potential save farmers millions in biosecurity, animal deaths and possibly increase the food production in the world. With the population of humans already over 7.0 billion there are more mouths to feed than ever before. By increasing livestock resistance to fatal diseases, this could potentially be a significant result for much more than just the farming community.

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