Lawrence Schook, Ph.D., presented the keynote address at the Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine’s 2019 Annual Fall Veterinary Conference – “The Oncopig Cancer Model: A platform for transitional, translational and transformative advances in cancer research.”
Schook, the Gutsgell Professor of Animal Sciences and Radiology at the University of Illinois, has been doing cancer research since 1995. He shared his work and why the pig is such an important model for treating the hundreds of diseases that fall under the cancer umbrella.
According to Schook it isn’t necessarily a mouse model or a pig model but rather what is the right animal to answer a very specific question. Disease models should mimic the human disease on a molecular basis. The pig has been around for years and has metabolic and physiological similarities that are very close to the human.
“The molecules we are targeting look like and behave like those we see in humans,” he said. “It’s not necessarily true with the mouse.”
In 2000 Schook’s team cloned pigs and began using them as a breeding source to continue to expand their populations for experimental animals. They were involved in the sequencing of the pig genome to begin to understand the evolution of human disease.
When you compare the pig and the human, the same genes associated with obesity or diabetes exist in both species, he said, making the pig an important model when looking at those diseases. Schook’s team discovered that drug metabolism in the pig is also very similar to humans. Because the pig is the same size as humans, a lot of devices for drug delivery were created using the pig as the experimental animal.
Schook’s team developed ‘Mood’ or modeling oncology on demand. When a tumor is discovered on a CT or MRI, they can take a biopsy of that tumor and run DNA sequencing on it. Then they can create that same tumor in a pig and do clinical trials on that pig to determine the right treatment.
According to Schook despite improved cancer research, the global incidence of cancer is rising with cancer being the leading cause of death worldwide. Human clinical trials have many burdens and the pool of available patients is not large enough to support ongoing clinical trials. Schook’s team aims to do pre-clinical trial screening in the pig to help speed up the treatment process. He encourages other researchers to build a multi-disciplinary team because each one will ask very different questions and bring different perspectives to the solution as we all work to find better ways to treat cancer.
If you would like to view his entire presentation, the rebroadcast is available on OState TV at OSU Fall Veterinary Conference Keynote.
MEDIA CONTACT: Derinda Blakeney, APR | OSU College of Veterinary Medicine | 405-744-6740 | firstname.lastname@example.org