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Pig-cloning project gets state aid

Friday, 20 June 2008

Iowa economic development leaders Thursday agreed to provide the U of I with nearly $1.4 million in loans and grants.

Exemplar Genetics is a partnership between Trans Ova Genetics in Sioux Center and Dr. Michael Welsh, a professor of internal medicine at the U of I.

 The first cloned animals would be used to test medical treatment for cystic fibrosisi, an area in which, Welsh is a leading research, said Tom Sharpe, associate vice president of economic development at the U of I.

Exemplar told the state that it had genetically modified pigs so they have the genes for cystic fibrosis.  The company says no ther researchers have created similar animal models. 

 Over time, other animals could be developed to test treatments for macular degeneration and cardiovascular disease, Sharpe said.

Finding animal models that accurately mimic human diseases is crucial to medical research, said Dr. Butch Baker, senior animal clinician at Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. "We have a saying that mouse models mimic what goes on in a mouse and not humans," Baker said.

Sharpe said pigs are good models for human disease because their organs are similar in size to those of humans.

A project like Exemplar's, Baker said, has the potential to speed up medical treatments for humans.

Exemplar told the state the money will be used to help establish a breeding herd in Sioux County and create a research lab in Iowa City and an animal houseing research site at the U of I.  Over the next three years, the groups hope to create one to two animal models of human disease.

The state approved a $400,000 loan to Exemplar Genetics and provided the university with a $999.315 research grant.

Last updated ( Wednesday, 08 April 2009 )

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