Navigation Links
Pigs and dogs can bridge gap between mice and humans in developing new therapies

Human and veterinary medicine could receive a big boost through use of larger animals, especially pigs and dogs, in research, with Europe at the forefront. There is the prospect of bringing drugs to the market more quickly at less cost, as well as accelerating progress in other forms of therapy, notably the use of stem cells in regenerative medicine. The potential in this new field was discussed at a recent workshop organised by the European Science Foundation (ESF), which called for a European pig clinic to facilitate generation and characterisation of models of human disease that would be funded within the EU's Seventh Framework programme, the main source of EU funding for research projects.

The immediate goal in the field is to establish a common standardised way of using animals with clearly defined characteristics (phenotypes), so that results can be compared across Europe. "The workshop showed that there is excellent expertise in individual labs, but the phenotypic tests need to be harmonised and standardised to facilitate comparison of results obtained in different labs," said Angelika Schnieke, one of the workshop's convenors, who holds the chair of Livestock Biotechnology at the Centre of Life Science in Weihenstephan, Germany.

Such standardisation has already been achieved for rodents, particularly the mouse, which is the most widely used animal model at present for human disease research. The extension of such a framework to pigs and dogs will bring great rewards not just for human medicine, but also for treatment of animal diseases. "Large animals offer a link between the classical rodent models and application in the clinic," said Schnieke.

"In view of the close genetic, anatomical and physiological similarities between dog and pig on the one side and human on the other, large animal models are likely to catalyse drug development." As Schnieke added, large animals would also help pursue other therapeutic avenues beyond drug development, including new medical technologies, devices and interventions. Large animals could also be used for research in a number of disease categories, including cancer, metabolic disorders such as obesity, and regenerative therapies, such as use of stem cells to replace damaged heart muscle.

The workshop focused particularly on pigs and dogs because these two animals are quite similar in scale and anatomy to humans, while serving quite complementary functions. Dogs could be used as models for studying the immediate consequences of infectious disease, while pigs could be genetically engineered to mimic certain human conditions, such as deficiencies in the immune system. In such cases pigs would be used like mice are at present to model certain aspects of human immunity or metabolic disorder, but with the advantage of being closer to us in many respects.

"A possible idea is the generation of pigs with a humanised immune system," said Schnieke. "The proof of principle has been shown in the mouse. Immune-deficient mice can be reconstituted with human immune cells and can be used to study immune reactions, for example against tissue xenografts (transplantation of tissue between species, such as pig to human). In theory this could also be possible in pigs. Therefore the generation of immune-deficient pigs is an important goal."

But further funding is required to develop suitable pig models, possibly within a European pig clinic. The workshop also discussed setting up smaller collaborative projects focussed on specific disease areas, with a view to obtaining funding from the ESF. A task force was established to pursue these goals.


Contact: Angelika Schnieke
European Science Foundation

Related biology news :

1. Building bridges between the clinic and the laboratory
2. Researchers bridge the terahertz gap with new tunable metamaterial
3. Truck-safe bamboo bridge opens in China
4. Scientists find link between inflamed gums and heart disease
5. U of Minnesota researcher finds link between aggression, status and sex
6. Adiponectin is a metabolic link between obesity and bone mineral density
7. Tiny protein provokes healthy bonding between cells
8. Escherichia coli bacteria transferring between humans and mountain gorillas
9. Researchers find link between nicotine addiction and autism
10. Balance between traditional activities, tourism key to sustaining coastal Alaska communities
11. MSU researcher studies ties between cholesterol drugs, muscle problems
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/29/2015)...   MedNet Solutions , an innovative SaaS-based eClinical ... research, is pleased to announce that it has been ... one of only three finalists for a 2015 ... Growing" category. The Tekne Awards honor Minnesota ... innovation and leadership. iMedNet™ eClinical ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... Va. , Oct. 29, 2015 Daon, ... today that it has released a new version of ... customers in North America have ... IdentityX v4.0 also includes a FIDO UAF certified ... are already preparing to activate FIDO features. These customers ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015  Connected health pioneer, ... driving the explosion of technology-enabled health and wellness, and ... new book, The Internet of Healthy Things ... sensors or smartphones even existed, Dr. Kvedar, vice president, ... of health care delivery, moving care from the hospital ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... BETHESDA, Md. , Nov. 30, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... property development company committed to the fostering and ... on the current and prospective initiatives designed to ... , Chief Executive Officer of Spherix. "Based on ... potential future licensees exceeds $50 billion and Spherix ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... 2015  Champions Oncology, Inc. (CSBR), engaged in the ... the development and use of oncology drugs, today announced ... be presenting at the LD MICRO Investor Conference on ... (PST).  The conference, held at the Luxe Sunset Bel ... , will feature 200 small/micro-cap companies and is expected ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... -- TapImmune, Inc. (TPIV), a clinical-stage ... and gene-based immunotherapeutics and vaccines for the treatment of ... presenting at the 8 th Annual LD Micro ... PT. Dr. John N. Bonfiglio a TapImmune ... presentation and will join TapImmune management in meeting with ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... Colo. , Nov. 30, 2015  Aytu BioScience, ... on urological and related conditions, will present at two ... at, an interactive real-time virtual conference, to be ... Event Investor Conference, to be held December 2 nd ... Los Angeles and streamed live via webcast. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: