View the complete Missouri Regional Life Sciences Summit supplement from the Kansas City and St. Louis Business Journals. Click here to view.
Researchers discuss comparative medicine approaches that enable the construction of new animal models to facilitate therapeutics and diagnostics.
Neil Olson, dean, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri-Columbia
The University of Missouri houses three National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) animal resource centers. These animal resource centers are: (1) the Mutant Mouse Regional Resource Center (MMRRC); (2) the Rat Resource and Research Center (RRRC); and the National Swine Resource and Research Center (NSRRC). These animal centers provide genetically modified animal models of human health and disease for comparative medicine research investigators. Critser will describe the goals and functions of these animal resource centers and illustrate how investigators can access these animal models, as well as the ancillary services the resource centers provide.
Plants Are Just Very Slow Animals: Most of us regard plants as quite different from animals, and many of us think of them as furniture. But plants actually share a very large number of biological functions with the animal kingdom, including mechanisms for sensing and responding to enemies (e.g., immune responses), cellular and molecular organization, and even behaviors. Moreover, because they must interact with animals in diverse and intimate ways, plants possess many characteristics uniquely suited for influencing animals, including humans. These include the chemical bases for all of traditional and much of modern medicine. I will illustrate similarities between plants and animals, and convergences that make plants useful for research and development in comparative medicine.
Carolyn Henry, professor of oncology and director, Tom and Betty Scott Endowed Program in Veterinary Oncology, University of Missouri-Columbia
Companion animals offer a unique model for study of spontaneously occurring cancer for many reasons. Our pets share our environment, thus may have similar exposure to environmental carcinogens. The technology for diagnosis and staging of cancer in veterinary medicine is identical to that available in human medicine, thus direct comparisons can be made. The biological behavior of naturally-occurring cancer in immune-competent pets more closely mimics that of human cancer than does that of experimentally-induced cancer in immunocompromised rodent models. One in four dogs will develop cancer in their lifetime and many pet owners will seek specialty, and even investigational therapy options. Thus, an opportunity exists for advancing the field of human oncology while offering state-of-the-art options for veterinary patients. The features shared between human and companion animal cancers provide a compelling argument for capitalizing on the opportunities that comparative oncology offers to benefit our understanding, diagnostic tools, and therapy options for a disease that knows no species boundaries. Examples of translational oncology research spanning from bench top laboratory investigations to bedside/cageside applications will be highlighted.
Since the introduction of Dolly, the first cloned sheep, genetic engineering of livestock has advanced to the point that nearly any genetic modification appears feasible. Genes can be introduced, deleted or altered in cultured cells. These cells can be evaluated in culture and then used to regenerate live animals by somatic cell nuclear transfer (cloning). Since pigs share similar physiology with humans and have proven to be excellent models for many human conditions, genetic engineering and animal cloning are being used to produce models of human disease states and disorders. These models are proving to be particularly important for situations where laboratory rodents have proven to be inadequate. Current successes of genetically engineered swine biomedical models will be presented.