Nav: Home

Using precision-genetics in pigs to beat cancer

May 13, 2016

The numbers are staggering: more than 40 % is the lifetime risk of developing cancer in the U.S., with only 66 % survival-rates 5 years after diagnosis, for all types of cancer. Trends suggest that in 2015, over 1.6 million new cases were diagnosed in the U.S., with over 580,000 deaths in consequence.

These numbers emphasize the need to better understand and treat the various forms of the disease, but mouse models usually used in cancer research have given us limited answers. However, Senior Scientist Adrienne Watson and colleagues at Recombinetics and the University of Minnesota, say that pigs may turn out to be the best alternative models.

"Many organ systems vary so greatly between rodents and humans that certain types of cancer cannot be accurately modelled," says Watson, despite the major role mouse models have played in our understanding of the disease. The authors conclude that the five deadliest cancers in the U.S. cannot be modeled in rodents, or have ineffective models for identification of treatments that translate to the clinic.

Cancer is a genetic disease where cells acquire or inherit genetic mutations, which result in malfunctioning proteins that cause uncontrolled growth of cells in the blood or solid organs. "The anatomical, physiological, and genetic similarities between swine and humans are striking, suggesting that disease modeling in this large animal may better represent the development and progression of cancer seen in people."

The authors explain, in their article that was published recently in Frontiers in Genetics, that new technology in precision-genetics, when applied to pigs, will lead the way, and could become especially advantageous when conducting targeted gene-editing using custom endonucleases, such as TALENs and CRISPRs, and transposon systems. "We can now engineer exact human disease alleles into the pig genome, to make novel models not available in rodents. They are incredibly valuable for their broader preclinical applications."

Using genetically modified pigs would allow overcoming one of the main drawbacks of rodent models, which is their inability so far to identify safe and effective drugs to treat cancer. For example, the size and ease in handling pigs allows for drugs to be administered in the same way as in patients, and for follow up blood-work over time.

The authors caution that, as for any novel animal model to be useful in cancer research, it must be adopted and fully tested in many laboratories and under many circumstances. But the higher costs involved in handling these animals in the laboratory setting may be well worth the gains in our understanding of this deadly disease.
-end-


Frontiers

Related Cancer Articles:

Radiotherapy for invasive breast cancer increases the risk of second primary lung cancer
East Asian female breast cancer patients receiving radiotherapy have a higher risk of developing second primary lung cancer.
Cancer genomics continued: Triple negative breast cancer and cancer immunotherapy
Continuing PLOS Medicine's special issue on cancer genomics, Christos Hatzis of Yale University, New Haven, Conn., USA and colleagues describe a new subtype of triple negative breast cancer that may be more amenable to treatment than other cases of this difficult-to-treat disease.
Metabolite that promotes cancer cell transformation and colorectal cancer spread identified
Osaka University researchers revealed that the metabolite D-2-hydroxyglurate (D-2HG) promotes epithelial-mesenchymal transition of colorectal cancer cells, leading them to develop features of lower adherence to neighboring cells, increased invasiveness, and greater likelihood of metastatic spread.
UH Cancer Center researcher finds new driver of an aggressive form of brain cancer
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers have identified an essential driver of tumor cell invasion in glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer that can occur at any age.
UH Cancer Center researchers develop algorithm to find precise cancer treatments
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers developed a computational algorithm to analyze 'Big Data' obtained from tumor samples to better understand and treat cancer.
New analytical technology to quantify anti-cancer drugs inside cancer cells
University of Oklahoma researchers will apply a new analytical technology that could ultimately provide a powerful tool for improved treatment of cancer patients in Oklahoma and beyond.
Radiotherapy for lung cancer patients is linked to increased risk of non-cancer deaths
Researchers have found that treating patients who have early stage non-small cell lung cancer with a type of radiotherapy called stereotactic body radiation therapy is associated with a small but increased risk of death from causes other than cancer.
Cancer expert says public health and prevention measures are key to defeating cancer
Is investment in research to develop new treatments the best approach to controlling cancer?
UI Cancer Center, Governors State to address cancer disparities in south suburbs
The University of Illinois Cancer Center and Governors State University have received a joint four-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to help both institutions conduct community-based research to reduce cancer-related health disparities in Chicago's south suburbs.
Leading cancer research organizations to host international cancer immunotherapy conference
The Cancer Research Institute, the Association for Cancer Immunotherapy, the European Academy of Tumor Immunology, and the American Association for Cancer Research will join forces to sponsor the first International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel in New York, Sept.

Related Cancer Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Crisis
There's no greater threat to humanity than climate change. What can we do to stop the worst consequences? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can save our planet and whether we can do it in time. Guests include climate activist Greta Thunberg, chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox, research scientist Sean Davis, food innovator Bruce Friedrich, and psychologist Per Espen Stoknes.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...