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.
The workshop Large Animal Models for Biomedicine was held in Freising, Germany, in September 2008.
For more information http://www.esf.org/activities/exploratory-workshops/workshops-list/workshops-detail.html?ew=6503
Thomas Lau | alfa
Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences