Larry Schook Bio Pic

Lawrence Schook

Professor, Animal Sciences

The development and investigation of new diagnostic modalities and innovative therapeutic tools is critical for reducing the global cancer burden. Towards this end, transitional animal models serve a crucial role in bridging the gap between fundamental diagnostic and therapeutic discoveries and human clinical trials. Such animal models offer insights into all aspects of the basic science-clinical translational cancer research continuum (screening, detection, oncogenesis, tumor biology, immunogenicity, therapeutics, and outcomes). To date, however, cancer research progress has been markedly hampered by the lack of a genotypically, anatomically, and physiologically relevant large animal model. Without progressive cancer models, discoveries are hindered and cures are improbable. Therefore we created a transgenic porcine model—the Oncopig Cancer Model (OCM)—as a next generation large animal platform for the study of hematologic and solid tumor oncology. With mutations in key tumor suppressor and oncogenes, TP53R167H and KRASG12D, the OCM recapitulates transcriptional hallmarks of human disease while also exhibiting clinically relevant histologic and genotypic tumor phenotypes. Moreover, as obesity rates increase across the global population, cancer patients commonly present clinically with multiple comorbid conditions. Due to the effects of these comorbidities on patient management, therapeutic strategies, and clinical outcomes, an ideal animal model should develop cancer on the background of representative comorbid conditions (tumor macro and microenvironments). The OCM has the capacity to develop tumors in combination with such relevant comorbidities. Furthermore, studies on the tumor microenvironment demonstrate similarities between OCM and human cancer genomic landscapes.

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