Biology and evolution are fascinating. And so is history: some ancient peoples had prescriptions against eating pork; nowadays we know why. And I think, if I remember right, that pigs brought over from Europe and gone feral were sadly one source of the spread of novel diseases amongst Native Americans.
“The pig is an omnivorous, monogastric species with many advantages to serve as an animal model for human diseases. There are very high similarities to humans in anatomy and functions of the immune system, e g., the presence of tonsils, which are absent in rodents. The porcine immune system resembles man for more than 80% of analyzed parameters in contrast to the mouse with only about 10%. “
From: “The pig as a model for immunology research” by Reinhard Pabst (Cell Tissue Res. 2020; 380(2): 287–304. Published online 2020 Apr 30. doi: 10.1007/s00441-020-03206-9)
“Over the last few years, we have seen an increasing interest and demand for pigs in biomedical research. Domestic pigs (Sus scrofa domesticus) are closely related to humans in terms of their anatomy, genetics, and physiology, and often are the model of choice for the assessment of novel vaccines and therapeutics in a preclinical stage. However, the pig as a model has much more to offer, and can serve as a model for many biomedical applications including aging research, medical imaging, and pharmaceutical studies to name a few. In this review, we will provide an overview of the innate immune system in pigs, describe its anatomical and physiological key features, and discuss the key players involved. In particular, we compare the porcine innate immune system to that of humans, and emphasize on the importance of the pig as model for human disease.”
From: “The porcine innate immune system: An update” by K.H. Mair, C. Sedlak, T. Käser, A. Pasternak, B. Levast, Gerner, A. Saalmüller, A. Summerfield, V. Gerdts, H.L. Wilson, and F. Meurensb, (Dev Comp Immunol. 2014 Aug; 45(2): 321–343. Published online 2014 Apr 4. doi: 10.1016/j.dci.2014.03.022)
“An animal model to study human infectious diseases should accurately reproduce the various aspects of disease. Domestic pigs (Sus scrofa domesticus) are closely related to humans in terms of anatomy, genetics and physiology, and represent an excellent animal model to study various microbial infectious diseases. Indeed, experiments in pigs are much more likely to be predictive of therapeutic treatments in humans than experiments in rodents. In this review, we highlight the numerous advantages of the pig model for infectious disease research and vaccine development and document a few examples of human microbial infectious diseases for which the use of pigs as animal models has contributed to the acquisition of new knowledge to improve both animal and human health.”
“The pig: a model for human infectious diseases” by Francois Meurens, Artur Summerfield, Hans Nauwynck, Linda Saif, Volker Gerdts (Trends in Microbiology, Trends in Microbiology, Volume 20, Issue 1, January 2012, Pages 50-57, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tim.2011.11.002)