A naturally occurring line of immunodeficient pigs can support the growth of human tumors injected under their skin, offering a promising new large-animal model for studying human cancers and testing new drugs and treatment strategies. The ability of human melanoma cells and pancreatic carcinoma cells to grow in these pig models is described in an article in BioResearch Open Access, a new bimonthly peer-reviewed open access journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. The article is available free online at the BioResearch Open Access website.

Mathew Basel and colleagues at Kansas State University and Iowa State University highlight the advantages that pig disease models offer, as they are anatomically and physiologically more closely related to humans than traditional rodent animal models. As a result, findings from studies in large animal models such as pigs are more likely to translate into similar outcomes in humans. The authors present their findings in the article “Human Xenografts Are Not Rejected in a Naturally Occurring Immunodeficient Porcine Line: A Human Tumor Model in Pigs.”

In the study, wild-type and immunodeficient pigs were injected subcutaneously in the left ear with human melanoma cells (A375SM cells) and in the right ear with human pancreatic carcinoma cells (PANC-1). All immunodeficient pigs developed tumors that were verified by histology and immunohistochemistry. Nonaffected littermates did not develop tumors.

“This novel animal model has the potential to become a highly useful model in cancer research studies, in addition to providing significant opportunities for drug discovery and other translational applications,” says Editor-in-Chief Jane Taylor, Ph.D., MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Immunodeficient pigs, which do not reject xenografted human tumors, have the potential to become an extremely useful animal model for cancer therapy because of their similarity in size, anatomy, and physiology to humans.

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