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Genomics

Gene editing switches off pig viruses

Technique overcomes barrier to pig–human organ transplants.

The CRISPR–Cas9 gene-editing technology can be used to generate pigs that are free from viruses that could potentially infect humans.

Researchers hope that pigs might one day be able to serve as organ donors when no human organ is available. But there are concerns that viruses embedded in the pig genome could infect humans who have porcine transplants.

Luhan Yang at eGenesis in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and her colleagues injected pig cells with a CRISPR–Cas9 gene-editing system that inactivated all copies of porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVs) from the cells. They then transferred the nuclei of these cells into pig embryos, which they implanted into sows whose genomes contained PERVs. When piglets were born, the researchers found that 100% of the PERVs in their cells had been inactivated.

The authors say that this PERV-inactivated pig strain can be a resource for researchers developing pigs with human-like organs.

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Ocean sciences

Humanity’s fast-food habit is filling the ocean with plastic

Food bags, drink bottles and similar items account for the biggest share of plastic waste near the shore.
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Quantum information

Quantum keys dial up tamper-proof conference calls

A new experiment efficiently distributes the highly secure keys to four parties instead of the typical two.
Farmers harvest pineapples in a field.

Workers harvest pineapples in Lingao County, China. Less than one-third of the money spent on food eaten at home reaches farmers. Credit: Yuan Chen/VCG/Getty

Economics

Poor harvest: farmers earn a pitiful fraction of the money spent on food

The bulk of consumer food spending around the world ends up in the coffers of distributors, processors and other parties beyond the farm gate.
A woman wearing a protective face mask splashes her hands in a jet of water

A pedestrian seeks relief from searing temperatures in Spain, where a high proportion of heat-related deaths have been linked to climate change. Credit: SALAS/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Climate change

More than one-third of heat deaths blamed on climate change

Warming resulting from human activities accounts for a high percentage of heat-related deaths, especially in southern Asia and South America.
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