BEIJING, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- Chinese scientists have generated stable pig stem cell lines that allow multiple gene-editing.
The breakthrough brightens prospects for organ transplant and livestock breeding.
Researchers from China Agricultural University, Sichuan Agricultural University, Northeast Agricultural University and Beijing Institute of Genomics cultivated stem cell lines that can "give birth to" healthy off-spring over more than 200 generations, according to a recent study published online in the journal Cell Research.
Pigs have more similarities with human beings in terms of embryo development, anatomy and physiology, so their stem cell lines can be used as models for animal-to-human organ transplant, according to the study.
However, few stable pig stem cell lines have been previously acquired since they tend to "go awry" during divisions, the paper's co-author Tang Qianzi from Sichuan Agricultural University told Xinhua.
The team successfully developed an in-vitro culture medium to maintain stable pluripotent stem cell lines from the pig epiblasts, the outermost layers of growing embryos, according to the study.
They found that those stem cells could propagate more than 240 times, maintaining normal chromosomal features and the potential to differentiate into three germ layers, according to the study.
Pluripotent stem cells are cells that can propagate to give rise to every other cell type in the body.
The study also found that those epiblast-derived stem cells could readily tolerate at least three rounds of successive gene editing and finally generated cloned live gene-edited piglets.
Tang said that in practice scientists have to edit the stem cell more than once to achieve their goals of cultivating pig organs for human transplant.
The findings delivered on the long-anticipated promise of pig pluripotent stem cells and opened new possibilities for biological research, regenerative biomedicine and animal husbandry. Enditem