The third conference focusing on swine in biomedical research was held at the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago from January 27 to 29, 2005. The conference identified areas of study or methodologies that would enhance the utility of pigs as biomedical models. Over 150 scientists from around the world convened to focus on identifying appropriate human diseases where traditional rodent models have not proven relevant. The progress since last conference focusing on relevant physiological comparisons between pigs and humans were also discussed.
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Central to developments for broad acceptance of the pig as a biomedical model is obtaining a complete draft of the pig genome sequence. Jane Rogers (Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute) described the approach planned to obtain the porcine genome sequence and the status of efforts to secure project funding. A 3X shotgun sequence and a 3X BAC skim are planned, and thanks to recent developments concerning funding from the USDA, industry partners, and the Sanger Institute, sequencing the swine genome is likely to start in late 2005. Additional presentations covered recent mapping developments and pig genome resources (2–6). These presentations clearly showed that the density of the pig map supports comparative genomics in building models. Resources such as microarrays were also discussed, and their use for gene expression of various tissues was well demonstrated (7). Issues related to transplantation and cloning included the successful use of the Sleeping Beauty transposon system and lentiviral vectors for transgene delivery and porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVs) sites in the pig genome (8,9). Randall Prather (University of Missouri) provided a summary of recent developments in the use of cloned and genetically modified porcine models for transplantation. This included their success in developing technologies that have permitted targeted genetic modifications of genes associated with transplantation.