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
Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences