The original article cites the development of a pig that would allow the transplantation and growth of human stem cells by researchers at the University of Missouri. The pigs can be used to understand disease mechanisms by taking cells from patients and implanting them into relevant organs of the pig. By doing so in a pig, rather than a mouse or rat, the researchers hope to get closer to human disease models.
Unfortunately, this concept isn’t new – several other groups have generated similar pigs. Furthermore, the pigs do not live long, leading to issues of breeding and maintenance of the newly developed pigs (only cloning will do). Finally, because the pigs only live for a month at most, no true studies of adult disease can be performed with them, a significant drawback relative to similar breeds of mice and rats which can reach adulthood.
Edited by SITN Waves Editor Adam Brown. Special thanks to Jamie Lahvic from the Harvard Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program and Dean Lee from the Harvard Neuroscience Program for their detailed critiques.
For more about stem cells and their application to medicine check out these recent SITN articles:
1. Stem Cells, the Key to Longevity