A team of researchers at Iowa State University, USA are creating pigs with human immune cells, to improve study of some medical conditions.
The pigs are born without their own immune system due to a genetic mutation that causes Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID), meaning that human stem cells can be transplanted into the liver, leading to breeding of a ‘humanised’ animal with cells from the human immune system.
“Pigs make better medical research subjects than [humanised] mice, because they are closer to humans in size, physiology and genetic makeup,” said Dr Adeline Boettcher in an article with The Conversation.
“This research will lead to human lifesaving discoveries utilizing the SCID pig model,” said Dr Dan Thompson, chair of animal science at Iowa University.
The pigs may also be used to study some cancerous tumours, or develop surgical techniques such as skin grafts.