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Gene Editing Offers Opportunity to Strengthen Disease Resistance in Pigs, Improve Productivity, Advance Animal Welfare

A geneticist with the University of Guelph says the science of gene editing offers opportunities to strengthen the disease resistance of pigs, increase the production efficiency of swine herds and enhance animal welfare.
"Gene Editing in the Pork Industry" was the focus of a Swine Innovation Porc panel discussion, held in conjunction with the 2023 Banff Pork Seminar.
Dr. Ray Lu, an associate professor in molecular and cellular biology in the College of Biological Science at the University of Guelph, notes gene editing is already being applied to crop development, livestock improvement and human medicine and the technology offers potential for the pork industry at the present time, primarily in the area of disease resistance.

Audio Clip- Dr. Ray Lu-University of Guelph:
I think most people know by now that PIC has a PRRS virus resistant pig.
That is basically using the gene editing technology to remove a cellular receptor.
This is a protein on the surface of the cell that the PRRS virus needs to attach to get into the cell.
The geneticists with PIC removed this cell surface receptor and therefore they can prevent the virus from getting into the cell and infect the pigs.
That would be the one big area that I can see for gene editing in the pork industry, is disease or pathogen resistance.

Instead of using antibiotics, instead of using different drugs and things like that, we could gene edit a pig breed that is naturally resistant to the pathogen.
That's what I think are the major areas, disease resistance, production trait improvement and, of course, animal welfare.
 

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