Analysis revealed that the olfactory and cathelicidin gene families in pigs are more evolutionarily evolved than those in humans and many other animals. Pigs have a better sense of smell, which makes them experts at finding truffles, for example. Pigs also have twice as many interferon genes as humans, possibly indicating some unique immune mechanisms against viral infection, Sang said.
Researchers also discovered several health similarities between humans and pigs. Pigs share some of the same protein abnormalities as humans with obesity, diabetes, dyslexia, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.
Similarly, researchers found that pigs have fewer endogenous retroviruses than many other animals, making pigs an important ally for more complex medical procedures like organ transplants.
"The pig genome is very important, maybe even more important than we once thought," Sang said. "It is very good for biomedical research advancements and it also looks to be a good resource for comparative studies of many other diseases."
At Kansas State University the sequenced pig genome stands to benefit agricultural, food animal and veterinary medicine research.
"For many years the pig has been one of the best models for human physiology and has been used extensively because of that," Blecha said. "While this is a blueprint for the health of the pig, it is also a blueprint for the expression of genes and how to modify them for perhaps better animal models and improved health across all species. This moves agricultural and biomedical science forward for the good of everyone."
|Contact: Frank Blecha|
Kansas State University