West agrees. "Over 700 drug treatments have gone to human clinical trials for stroke alone based on findings in rodents and have turned out not to be viable in humans," he said. "The pigs are much more human like, and they are going to be a much better model to study strokes."
West is leading a cooperative project between the UGA Regenerative Bioscience Center and stroke researchers at Georgia Health Sciences University. "This project will improve the speed and efficiency of treatment development for stroke and many other conditions and potentially reduce the number of nonhuman primates used in research," he said.
Additionally, Stice and West have now bred the pigs produced from iPSCs and have proven the stem cells did pass to the offspring. This finding opens the door for better animal-sourced tissue for human regenerative medicine such as islet cells that produce insulin for diabetic patients.
Using iPSC technology, the UGA Regenerative Bioscience Center is working with researchers at Emory University to make pigs whose cells from the pancreas would demonstrate decreased rejection in human treatments.
"The next step would be to put these pig insulin-producing cells into other animals, potentially dogs or cats suffering from diabetes-to see if it will produce insulin for them without being rejected," Stice said. "So, it's moving forward. Never as fast as we like, but it's moving."
Source: University of Georgia