By Lisa M. Krieger
In a provocative cross-species experiment, scientists are striving to rewrite the pig genome so the animal grows lungs that could be transplanted into humans.
“We are re-engineering the pig, changing its genetic code,” said genome pioneer Craig Venter at SynBioBeta 2014, an annual synthetic biology conference in San Francisco. “If we succeed with rewriting the pig genome, we will have replacement organs for those who need them,” he said Friday.
His team at Synthetic Genomics is designing the project, he said, creating on computers the code needed to build the hybrid. By changing as few as five genes, they have created lungs that survived for a year in baboons, he said.