More on Minipigs
Research Models
Peter Mansell

More on Minipigs

Shedding light on data gaps that have held back the use of this research animal.

Here's a recent article published online in Toxicologic Pathology that provides a thorough look at numerous substances used to deliver therapeutic compounds to minipigs. The data come from 18 different companies (including our site in Edinburgh) that work with Göttingen minipigs, and fills a yawning gap in the scientific literature. As the article points out, information on formulations tolerated by the minipig haven't been "broadly shared by the scientific community," perhaps, I suppose, because this degree of collaboration has previously been lacking.

The paper provides a lot of really great examples of minipig studies conducted successfully by safety pharmacologists and toxicologists that used different dermal, oral, intravenous or subcutaneous vehicles—from emulsifiers, surfactants, preservatives and organic cosolvents to water/saline solutions, oils and starches. The group lists which excipients worked and which ones didn't, and how long the studies lasted.

So why is this important? As a longtime minipig researcher, I am surprised that these research animals aren't used more in studies outside of the dermal arena, which I blogged about here last summer.

One of the compelling reasons why might be the lack of publicly available data about the tolerability—or lack of tolerability—of certain vehicles.

The article encourages toxicologists and safety pharmacologists to publish their in-house data in the public domain so we all might benefit. We'll see. This paper will be part of an upcoming minipig supplement that will be appearing soon which demonstrates the continued commitment to fully utilize the minipig in research.

—Peter Mansell, Associate Scientific Director, General Toxicology Department, Charles River Labs, Montreal