Recombinetics Wins Federal Grant To Create ‘Minipig’ For Alzheimer’s Research

The gene editing company is known for its proprietary pig models, which are used in treatment studies for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other conditions.

Gene editing company Recombinetics received a federal grant on Tuesday to create a genetically accurate porcine model, or “minipig,” that will help create treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.
The National Institute on Aging and National Institutes of Health awarded a $358,338 Phase 1 Small Business Innovation Research grant to the St. Paul-based health tech company.
Recombinetics is known for its creation of proprietary pig models that closely replicate human congenital and progressive diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and various neurodegenerative diseases. Traditionally, rats have been used in the Alzheimer’s studies; however, pigs are 95 percent similar to human based on a number of biological markers.  
“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 Alzheimers,” Recombinetics CEO Scott Fahrenkrug said in prepared remarks.
Adrienne Watson, a senior scientist at Recombinetics, was named the principal investigator of the federal grant. She noted that Recombinetics’ proprietary technology would be crucial in developing models that are unique and optimized to study Alzheimer’s specifically.
“The size of the swine we use, a minipig, allows for imaging in human MRI equipment to detect disease pathology in the brain,” she said. “Our swine models serve as proxies for human patients in preclinical research trials” that take place all across the country.
Roughly 47 million people worldwide—5.4 million of which are American—suffer from Alzheimer’s disease today. It is estimated that Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the U.S. about $236 billion in 2016, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The organization notes that if little is done to cure or treat the disease, U.S. spending on Alzheimer’s is expected to grow to $1.1 trillion by 2050.