The NF Swine Project at the University of Wisconsin is one of the major research projects supported by the NF Team.


ABOUT THE PROJECT

While NF research has been occurring for decades, persistent barriers slow down progress towards a cure. Up until recently, mouse-models have been the primary way NF research is conducted. The limitations of the mouse-model have contributed to a lack of progress in several vital areas of research. For example, mouse models are not very helpful for research studies of cognitive and vascular issues in NF. Mouse models are also not as well suited for developing and testing new drugs, therapies, and/or surgical techniques as other models.

Charles Konsitzke, Associate Director for the Biotechnology Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison), is actively working to break down these barriers. After speaking with several leading NF researchers across the country, Mr. Konsitzke realized the UW-Madison was uniquely positioned to create an NF swine-model for NF1 that would complement and facilitate NF research advances across the country. The University of Wisconsin plans to make this swine-model available to all NF researchers across the world.

The UW-Madison NF Swine Project will advance research in several key ways:

1. Swine with the NF mutation will more closely resemble humans in their cognitive, vascular, and tumor development than mice. This means discoveries made in the swine models will be more directly applicable to humans, shortening the time it takes to get successful therapies approved and ready for use in human patients. 

2. UW-Madison has ample space within their state-of-the-art swine facilities and surgical facilities for this project. In fact, no other advanced livestock facility in the United States has the same amount of space, advanced equipment and experts for a similarly sized project. These facilities and instruments provide the NF Swine Project the ability to raise and study the animals under carefully controlled conditions. Researchers are able to study cognitive effects or tumor growth over short and long periods of time. These resources also allow for large-scale testing and validation of promising drugs or therapies before use in humans with NF.

3. UW-Madison is one of only two universities in the United States licensed to transport research-grade livestock across the country. This means that the university can deliver live animals to NF researchers across the country to advance their studies and discoveries. 

4. The Swine Project will also increase the supply of NF tissue available to researchers across the United States for their studies. UW-Madison has pledged to provide this tissue at cost to researchers and will not see a financial profit from the sharing of this tissue. The primary goal of the program is to contribute to the quality and efficiency of NF research already occurring across the country.

KEEPING DOWN COSTS

The Swine Project does not make use of existing federal dollars for Neurofibromatosis research. Funding for the NF Swine Project comes from the University of Wisconsin, the NF Team, the NF Network, and other personal donations.

UW-Madison has also pledged that none of the money raised and donated by the NF Team will go to administrative costs of the university. Administrative costs usually account for roughly half of the overall cost of research. This means any donation made by supporters of the NF Team will go directly to the UW Foundation funding the research.

Project Update

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September 24, 2017

In less than three years, the team at UW-Madison has moved from the concept phase of the project to successful breeding of the second generation of swine with the NF1 mutation. The team has already began early studies to advance research towards treatments and a cure for NF. This photo was taken a few hours after the birth of this second generation.