Non-Ruminant Nutrition Symposium – The Pig Model Project of China
By: Lauren Soranno
On Monday, July 9th, the ASAS-CSAS Non-Ruminant Nutrition Symposium consisted of various speakers discussing new swine science. Sen Wu, a professor at China Agricultural University, prepared a video presentation, as he was not able to attend the conference, discussing the Pig Model Project of China. Animal models of human diseases are critical to develop therapies by dissecting mechanisms of pathophysiology. Newer animal models need to be created to better mimic humans. Wu discussed that there is a gap between mice and humans in relation to genomic similarities that can possibly be filled by pigs. Other speakers during the Non-Ruminant Nutrition Symposium had similar findings such as Harry Dawson, from the USDA-ARS, who analyzed orthologous genes to indicate greater porcine-human similarities compared with murine-human similarities for almost every gene examined. Wu explained how mouse models have been used previously to study cystic fibrosis; however, knockout pig models have succeeded in modeling cystic fibrosis and overcame obstacles the mouse models faced. Other studies using pig models have been published that continually show advantages of using pigs over certain murine models. Although pig models appear to be better, conventional pig models are costly. The National Swine Research facility is in progress of being constructed by China Agricultural University, where the PMP aims to create pig knockout models that cover the entire genome and phenotype all lines to lead to translational researches. Wu outlined his envision for the PMP stating that during the first 5-year phase (2019-2023) he intends for 10,000 lines to be created and 500 top priority models to be distributed followed by the second 5-year phase (2024-2028) with 15,000 lines created and 500 more top priority models distributed. The top models will focus on cardiovascular diseases, metabolic diseases, neurological diseases, and other major human diseases. Overall, Wu stressed the PMP’s main goal is to create pig models for biomedical research to shorten time for clinical trials, cut down the number of human patients needed, and improve test efficiency of end points. He concluded his presentation by explaining his hopes to make the PMP an international collaboration and make all pig models freely available to the entire research community to ultimately advance translational research.