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Pigs are a new ideal model for cystic fibrosis

12 May 2010

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Category: Research & medical benefits

pig.jpgThe cause of cystic fibrosis (CF) is becoming clearer after scientists used pigs as models instead of mice.

For years scientists have been grappling with the question of whether infection or inflammation comes first in lungs of CF sufferers. Tracking the disease progression in newborn pigs revealed that those bred to display symptoms of CF tended to have more bacteria infecting their lungs than healthy pigs. Results also showed that within the first six months CF pigs were less able to cope with infections than healthy ones.

Usually the lungs of human CF patients become infected, inflamed and produce large amounts of mucus in the air passages. As it is now evident that pigs are affected in a similar way, the next stage is to explore infection further to see if there may be any potential for human treatments.

Using pig models scientists can test treatments at earlier stages of CF than they could in humans, and can conduct research into preventative therapies. Scientists involved in the work feel that this new model brings them a step closer to finding more answers for a condition which affects five babies born every week in the UK.