Researchers in the United States have genetically modified pigs to help open the door to organ transplants from animals. Scientists from biotechnology company eGenesis published their work in the journal Science on Thursday.

Combining genetic modification and cloning, the scientists conducted experiments and cleansed 37 pigs of viruses hiding in their DNA, which could cause diseases in human beings. This makes it possible for organs from pigs to be transplanted into humans in the future.

“This research represents an important advancement in addressing safety concerns about cross-species viral transmission,” said Dr Luhan Yang, co-founder and chief scientific officer at eGenesis. However, there are still many hurdles to overcome, including ethical objections.

Yang said these piglets were the most genetically modified animals in terms of the number of modifications, adding that they were only in the early stages of research and development. “We know we have an audacious vision of a world with no shortage of organs, that is very challenging, but that is also our motivation to move mountains,” Yang told BBC.

The scientists will now try to work on overcoming the challenge of ensuring that the organs from the pigs are more acceptable to the human immune system.