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How Pig Models Are Being Used in Huntington’s Disease Research

swine as models in biomedical researchIn the latest example of the benefits of using swine tissue as models in biomedical research, scientists have engineered the world’s first pigs with Huntington’s disease, which could lead to a cure for this debilitating illness.

Huntington’s is a neurodegenerative disease that leaves its victims incapacitated in its later stages, and in need of personal care.

Symptoms usually present between the ages of 30 and 50 and include trouble concentrating, difficulty swallowing, clumsiness and involuntary jerking. People with the illness rarely survive more than 20 years after their symptoms first manifest.

But there may be hope for people with Huntington’s disease, thanks to a joint effort by researchers at Emory University in Atlanta and Jinan University in China, working with the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technique used in swine.

In the past, studies like this one would have used rodents as their main animal model, but these research teams concluded that pigs made a better fit due to their close biological similarity to humans.

“We think the pig model will fill an important gap,” Li Shihua, professor of human genetics at Emory University and one of the study’s co-senior authors, told the Telegraph. “In pigs, the pattern of neurodegeneration is almost the same as in humans, and there have been several treatments tested in mouse models that didn’t translate to humans.”

This study is yet another instance of how using swine as models in biomedical research can lead to breakthroughs that help human patients.

In the past we’ve written about how using swine as models in biomedical research showed new insights into spinal diseases and promising methods for treating diabetes.

Animal Biotech is proud to have played a role in these types of projects. We can customize different varieties of post-mortem tissues and tissue blocks or suggest the type of tissue that would work best for your project.

Contact us today to see how Animal Biotech can assist you and your team.