WHY THE PIG
Our journey began when co-founder Ryan Dilger began pioneering the use of cognitive tasks and magnetic resonance imaging to understand early life brain development in the pig. As faculty in the Animal Sciences department at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, Dr. Dilger realized the potential of the pig to provide highly translatable data to the pediatric nutrition industry. In 2015, Dr. Dilger created a dedicated, high- throughput piglet rearing facility for the testing of nutritional products. The facility, the Piglet Nutrition and Cognition Facility, has since become a critical resource for the collaboration and execution of industry sponsored projects.
Co-founder Stephen Fleming joined Dr. Ryan Dilger in 2014 to develop new behavioral tasks and advance capabilities in testing cognitive development in the pig. Stephen lead the first study in the Piglet Nutrition and Cognition Laboratory and served as the lead and point of contact for several studies with industry sponsors.
Together, Dr. Ryan Dilger and Stephen Fleming are leading the charge to commercialize preclinical testing using the piglet model to create a contract research organization dedicated to testing food and drug products in the pig.
BRIDGE THE GAP
Like humans and primates, the pig brain is gyrencephalic, and growth of the pig brain follows a similar trajectory as the human. The precocial nature of the pig allows behavioral assessment during early development.
The size of the pig allows the use of the same equipment as that used in human clinical trials, whether that equipment is related to magnetic resonance imaging or medical devices. Thus, backwards validation and forward-looking innovation can be achieved in the same model.
Similar anatomy and physiology have led to the pig becoming a gold standard in nutrition science, among many other fields.
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