Apart from being popular as pets, teacup pigs have made their way into medical research too and this dates back to the 1960s. Their intelligent nature is one of the reasons behind this because they are easy to settle in a laboratory. Also, they share a very similar genetic structure with human beings, due to which massive research has been going on them. They also share a similar anatomical structure with the comparable working of digestive, urinary and cardiovascular systems.
Teacup pigs have replaced dogs, monkeys, and horses in the field of research in the past few years. This not only has chances of benefitting the humans, but new breeds of these pigs have been developed with the desired features. The main fields in which teacup pigs have been used are:
• Experimental surgery
• Aging studies
How are the breeds selected for research purposes?
For the reason of ease, various breeds were cross-bred to get smaller versions. Moreover, the sexual maturity age, growth rate and size of various organs were found to be different in domestic farm pig breeds and teacup pig breeds. Small-sized pigs are always preferred over the ones with large size because it is quite simple to work with them. Also, the growth rate is faster of mini pigs and they become sexually active at a very young age. All these factors make teacup pigs very suitable for use in medical research. Also, a lot of cross-breeding helped in the development of various breeds that are now widely popular as pets. Their small size was not only an advantage for the scientists but helped the pigs gain popularity as domestic pet animals.
Anatomical Similarities between Pigs and Human Beings
Many animals have been used in medical research before pigs but pigs share maximum anatomical and physical features with humans more than any other animal. Pigs have their digestive, cardiovascular and urinary systems quite similar to those of humans. This is a very big reason as to why these are preferred over dogs and other animals previously used.
They are known to share a very similar cardiovascular system with humans along with similar genetic structures. Scientists are trying to use the pig’s heart in human heart transplantation operations. Scientists are trying to mutate the genes of the pig so that the organ suits the human body well without any complications. Similarly, the gastrointestinal system, reproductive system, lungs, pancreas, liver, and kidneys of the pigs are alike to those of the human body. Even the skin of the pigs is found to share parallel characteristics with the human skin.
Such factors account for the use of teacup pigs as models in modern biomedical research. These are safe while performing experiments on them and have shown better results than any other animal. Currently, pigs are considered as one of the best animal models for research. It is significant that in the upcoming few years, medical science will be able to perform the desired operations with these miniature pigs.
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