Most middle-aged and elderly people in the developed world have atherosclerosis and a quarter of this group will die of it making atherosclerosis the number one cause of death worldwide. Novel transgenic porcine models of athero-sclerosis will hopefully contribute to combat this unfortunate situation. These animals have been generated on a Yucatan background and will combine the advantages of small animal models of atherosclerosis in terms of speed with the advantages of mini pig models in terms of mimicking human vasculature and plaque development while at the same time offering the ability to do intravascular procedures (imaging, interventions etc). The application of these models in the development of therapeutics / products in this dynamic and growing area will provide significant value to our partners.

PixieGene will supply pigs or carry out collaborative work with partner companies to utilise the models in a range of applications including:

  • drug screening
  • side effect assessments
  • imaging studies
  • dietary studies
  • device studies


Advantages of PixieGene’s atherosclerosis models

The University of Aarhus and PixieGene are working on three transgenic pig models of atherosclerosis based on over-expression and knock out of target genes. The first successful line was a PCSK9 model and the second an ApoE knock out model which was born in January 2011.

PixieGene believes the models will provide a new paradigm in atherosclerosis models. They will open up improved testing of drugs targeting a range of settings from treatment or prevention of atherosclerosis to the assessment of drugs for use in settings related to metabolic syndrome or diabetes.

These models will be attractive because they will:

  • Provide a robust model that mimics the human situation
  • Provide a model with a comparatively short experimental period
  • Be consistent in terms of speed and intensity of disease development
  • Overcome many of the disadvantages of small animal and non-transgenic porcine models