Recombinetics has just announced that the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded the company with a $358,338 Phase 1 Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant to create a genetically accurate swine model of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Recombinetics is a biotech company specializing in gene editing of livestock for human therapeutics and food production applications. The company develops precise porcine models that mimic human congenital and progressive diseases, such as AD, heart disease and diabetes, among others. These models are used in preclinical animal trials to aid in developing safe drugs at lower costs.
“Recombinetics’ proprietary advances in gene editing enable us to optimize disease models to better replicate human disease conditions in animals. Additionally, the size of the swine we use, a minipig, allows for imaging in human MRI equipment to detect disease pathology in the brain. Our swine models serve as proxies for human patients in preclinical research and trials,” Adrienne Watson, Recombinetics’ senior scientist and the principal investigator awarded the NIH grant, said in a press release.
The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 47 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s disease, and that number is rising. Researchers currently are limited to simple disease models that do not reflect the full Alzheimer’s disease pathology in humans, which fails to enable disease detection and treatment.
The Alzheimer’s model hopefully will accelerate the ability to identify preclinical therapeutic and diagnostic methods for early detection and therapies to prevent, stop and cure Alzheimer’s. Recombinetics developed a method to simulate Alzheimer’s disease in swine – an animal that is 95% similar to humans in anatomy, genetics, histology, metabolism, physiology and cognition – to provide a model capable of monitoring brain and behavioral function during the course of the disease, while creating a more reliable treatment-testing platform.
“With millions of lives at stake and an aging population, there’s a critical need to find methods of early detection and treatments for Alzheimer’s patients,” added Scott Fahrenkrug, executive chairman and chief scientific officer of Recombinetics. “Our model will better reflect the human condition and give pharmaceutical researchers a more accurate platform to test therapies that could benefit patients suffering from, or at-risk for, Alzheimer’s.”