PRRS-Resistant Pigs an Industry "Game-Changer"

December 9, 2015 11:04 AM

By Angela Bowman

Since the Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) virus first appeared in the U.S. in 1987, it has cost the U.S. pork industry roughly $10 billion.  PRRS causes severe pneumonia or respiratory problems in newborn piglets and young pigs, resulting in a 20 percent to 80 percent mortality rate, and reproductive failure in sows. 

Now, teams of researchers from the University of Missouri and Kansas State University have collaborated with experts from Genus plc to develop the first generation of pigs resistant to PRRS.

Randall Prather, a distinguished professor of animal sciences at the University of Missouri and one of the study's researchers, explained the science behind PRRS itself.

“Once inside the pigs, PRRS needs some help to spread; it gets that help from a protein called CD163,” he explained. “We were able to breed a litter of pigs that do not produce this protein, and as a result, the virus doesn’t spread. When we exposed the pigs to PRRS, they did not get sick and continued to gain weight normally.”


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