An Indiana company is looking to increase access to a unique breed of pig, which it says could lead to a cure for diabetes and complications related to the disease. CorVus Biomedical LLC, a Purdue University/Indiana University startup, will breed and sell Ossabaw miniature pigs to researchers across the U.S. The breed has a heart that performs much like a humans, and also has a special genetic mutation that could provide researchers with clues to fight the disease.

CorVus Biomedical was founded by IU School of Medicine Department Chair Michael Sturek and Purdue Associate research professor Mouhamad Aloosh. The professors, and other researchers, bought 26 feral Ossabaw miniature pigs from Ossabaw Island, near the coast of Georgia, in 2002. 

Sturek says, “Ossabaw pigs naturally developed the propensity to obesity and pre-diabetes as a survival mechanism to cope with periods of starvation on Ossabaw Island. The pigs’ form of pre-diabetes could reverse itself when the animals stopped gorging and started living lean again. We thought this genetic mutation and coping mechanism, and the pigs’ heart, which mimics a human’s fantastically, could provide the key to a cure for diabetes and the terrible long-term complications like heart disease, in humans.”

The CDC reports about 30 million US residents have diabetes. And more than 84 million have pre-diabetes, with more than 30-percent expected to develop Type 2 diabetes.  CorVus has contracts to sell the pigs to researchers once the CorVus facility construction is completed, which is expected within weeks. 

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