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A Bacon of Hope

A visit with Randall Prather, Professor, Division of Animal Sciences

By Sean Powers
Published: - Topics: genes genetic modification cloning pigs organs

Prather’s “Wall of Pork and Beef”

Topics: hemophilia stem cells

Prather gives a tour of the “Wall of Pork and Beef,” which highlights some of the important research projects on which he has collaborated over the years.




  • • In his early tests with embryo transfers in pigs, the cloned, genetically modified swine share the distinct characteristic of a green fluorescent snout.


  • • Removing the Alpha 1,3-galactosyltransferase (GGTA1) gene in pigs eliminates the deadly antibodies that attack organs coming from a different species.


  • • By “co-colonizing the pig liver” (transferring human liver cells into fetal pigs), the pig is born with a liver that is part human, providing another potential source of liver cells for transfer to a person with liver disease.


  • • Creating stem cells from skin could lead to useful genetic modifications.


  • • In order to find a cure for cystic fibrosis, a devastating lung disease found in humans alone, Prather’s research shows that, with genetic modification, swine can develop the same condition, making it easier to test treatments and therapies for humans.


  • • Adding certain genes to pigs has resulted in the protein being produced in the pigs’ milk. The pigs can then be milked and the proteins purified from the milk, which could contribute to the creation of a pharmaceutical treatment for hemophilia.