Transgenic pigs as models for translational biomedical research
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The translation of novel discoveries from basic research to clinical application is a long, often inefficient, and thus costly process. Accordingly, the process of drug development requires optimization both for economic and for ethical reasons, in order to provide patients with appropriate treatments in a reasonable time frame. Consequently, “Translational Medicine” became a top priority in national and international roadmaps of human health research. Appropriate animal models for the evaluation of efficacy and safety of new drugs or therapeutic concepts are critical for the success of translational research. In this context rodent models are most widely used. At present, transgenic pigs are increasingly being established as large animal models for selected human diseases. The first pig whole genome sequence and many other genomic resources will be available in the near future. Importantly, efficient and precise techniques for the genetic modification of pigs have been established, facilitating the generation of tailored disease models. This article provides an overview of the current techniques for genetic modification of pigs and the transgenic pig models established for neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular diseases, cystic fibrosis, and diabetes mellitus.