eGenesis' stated goal is to make xenotransplantation a routine medical procedure. The company is a Cambridge, MA-based startup that's using the gene-editing tool CRISPR to make pig organs viable for transplants into people.
The company raised $38 million in March 2017 and is cofounded by Harvard geneticist George Church and Luhan Yang. Their research is focusing on removing certain genes in pigs that could cause diseases or organ rejection in humans, making it possible for those pig organs to be transplanted. eGenesis announced in the journal Science that it had produced 37 piglets that had inactivated Porcine Endogenous Retrovirus, or PERV.
eGenesis scientists collaborated with scientists at QihanBio in Hangzhou, China on research that combined PERV knockouts with 13 other genetic changes designed to prevent immune rejection. Lead author on the research paper published in 2019 in BioRxriv is Luhan Yang, who is also CEO of QihanBio. Modifications were done in pig ear cells. The pig ear cells were used to generate pig clones. The nuclei of the ear cells, containing the modified DNA, were transferred into eggs from ovaries collected at a slaughterhouse. A second round of editing was used to remove PERV sequences followed by another round of cloning by transferring nuclei to eggs.
Eyeing organs for human transplants, companies unveil the most extensively gene-edited pigs yet
December 19, 2019
- CRISPRClustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) is a prokaryotic adaptive immune response that provides immunity against foreign nucleic acids, such as viral DNA and bacterial plasmids, through the use of crRNAs (CRISPR RNAs) and associated Cas genes.
- George ChurchGeorge Church is an American genetic scientist, Harvard University professor, and entrepreneur.