Genetically-engineered animals, most notably genetically-engineered mice, have allowed scientists to make huge progress in our understanding of how cells and organisms function. Similarly, genetically-engineered swine have tremendous potential to contribute to our understanding of human disease and to address questions that cannot be answered with rodent models. However, the technology for the creation of genetically-engineered swine is new and technically difficult. Because only a handful of places in the country possess this expertise, few genetically modified swine exist. As one component of the NSRRC, we will create critically needed genetically-modified swine for NIH-funded investigators.
Because of the expense and facility requirements associated with the creation of new genetically-modified swine, only three new pig lines will be created per year. To determine which mutants will be made by the NSRRC, NIH-funded investigators will be asked to submit an application. The Advisory Panel will select the mutant pig lines to be made. The Advisory Panel will consider the following in selecting genetic modifications: nature of the mutation to be induced (gene addition, gene knockout/in); potential scientific value of the genetic model; potential estimates for the demand for each mutation; distinguishing characteristics that make the genetic background as well as the mutation to be introduced the most suitable; uniqueness and difficulty of the genetic modification; and knowledge of the locus into which the modification must be introduced (for a knockout/in). Since all of the mutations will be custom produced, some specialized reagents (genetic background) or information (gene sequence) may be required.
Once an application has been approved, this service will be supported by the NSRRC at no charge to the NIH-funded investigator. All genetically-modified swine created by the NSRRC will be cryopreserved. Initially, animals with a single mutation will be provided to the requesting investigator(s). Animals with homozygous mutations can also be provided, but only after sufficient time has elapsed to produce these animals in-house.