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Genetic Study Reveals Similarities Between Humans and Pigs

The research maps genetic parallels between pigs and humans, promising advancements in pharmaceuticals and sustainable agriculture.

KJ Staff
The researchers analysed the 'transcriptome' within various tissue types to draw a parallel genetic comparison between humans and pigs. (Representational Image)
The researchers analysed the 'transcriptome' within various tissue types to draw a parallel genetic comparison between humans and pigs. (Representational Image)

In an era where genetic research opens new frontiers, a study by experts at Aarhus University has revealed commonalities between humans and pigs. This research, published in Nature Genetics, delved into the genetic intricacies of hundreds of pigs and humans, shedding light on similarities and differences. Led by the Center for Quantitative Genetics and Genomics, this study helps understand the genetic parallels between the two species.

Genetic Correspondences

The researchers analysed the 'transcriptome'—active genes within various tissue types—across 34 diverse tissues in pigs. Lingzhao Fang, a leading researcher in the project, highlighted the significance of this comprehensive analysis, citing its potential impact on agriculture and pharmaceuticals.

Pharmaceutical Research Advancement

Traditionally, pigs have been crucial in drug development due to their physiological similarity to humans. However, this recent breakthrough fortifies their value as invaluable models for testing new medications. Fang stressed the striking resemblance in tissue types between pigs and humans, bolstering the accuracy of drug safety assessments within the pharmaceutical industry.

RNA Landscape

The study emphasises the critical role of RNA in gene expression and its translation into observable traits or phenotypes. Unlike the static blueprint presented by the genome, the transcriptome dynamically governs which genes are activated within specific cell types. Fang elucidated that understanding the transcriptome's influence on diseases enables the development of more targeted medicines, optimising treatment efficacy.

 

Agricultural Implications

Beyond pharmaceuticals, these findings offer a promising avenue for sustainable agriculture. The comprehensive mapping of active genes in pigs facilitates pinpointing genetic mechanisms governing desirable traits. Fang highlighted the potential for breeding pigs with reduced environmental impact, aligning with efforts for more eco-friendly agricultural practices.

Expanding Horizons

The research team, having previously delved into cow genetics, aims to map transcriptomes in various animals like chickens, goats, sheep, horses, and ducks. This ambitious endeavor seeks to not only enhance agricultural practices but also deepen our understanding of animal biology.

Implications Beyond Agriculture

The broader implications of this research transcend animal breeding. It holds promise in understanding disease transmission between humans and animals, potentially aiding in preventing future outbreaks. Lingzhao Fang emphasised that the fundamental understanding gained from these studies could extend to wild and extinct animal species.

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