The European Commission has announced that PIC, a worldwide swine genetics and ag-biotechnology company, has obtained its fourth EC project grant.

The project, called "PathoCHIP" includes PIC, Intervet and the Spanish National Institute for Food Research (INIA) at the Animal Health Research Center. The research partnership will use cutting-edge technology and bioinformatics to better understand genetic regulation of disease production, recovery and resistance.

A pig-specific bacterial disease caused by Haemophilus parasuis is the study's focus. In some situations, this disease can lead to significant pig mortality. Genes from host and pathogen will be identified by RNA analysis of pigs from different genetic backgrounds before, during and after infection. Researchers will use sequencing techniques to identify the genes, encoded proteins and biological pathways involved in the infection process. The information gathered will help identify disease-resistant pigs and help develop new anti-infective compounds.

The PathoCHIP project will be among the first to apply microarray technology in pigs. This innovation allows researchers to study thousands of genes simultaneously on a glass chip the size of a large postage stamp. This is a tremendous advancement over past methods where researchers could study only a few genes in any single experiment.

Lucina Galina of PIC's Health Biotechnology team states, "PathoCHIP will serve as a model for future studies relative to the interaction between different pathogens and the pig. This grant demonstrates PIC's on-going commitment to provide healthy genetic improvement through the dedication of our research and development team. It also illustrates the strength of this particular research team."

Total project cost, comprising the EC grant as well as funding from PIC and Intervet, is estimated at $1 million (US). The project will be coordinated from PIC's Cambridge, UK laboratory.