Application of rabbits in biomedical research: a review.
The first transgenic rabbits were obtained two decades ago by pronuclear microinjection. Several characteristics of rabbit made it the first and classical model for the study of lipoproteins and atherosclerosis. Rabbit models include normal cholesterol-fed rabbits, spontaneous mutants for lipid metabolism and transgenic rabbits. Though most molecular investigations of the cardiovascular system have used transgenic mice, the small rodents do not accurately reflect crucial facets of human cardiovascular physiology, therefore a number of different transgenic rabbit models of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy were created. Transgenic rabbits have been found to be suitable bioreactors for the production of pharmaceutical proteins filling an important niche between the laboratory mouse and larger farm mammals. It is the smallest animal that can be used to produce recombinant proteins in its milk or serum both on an experimental and a commercial scale. The rabbit appears particularly flexible for the preparation of human antibodies, and recombinant human proteins for replacement therapies have also been produced in rabbit milk. A specific biotechnology of the rabbit is emerging. The scientific community which uses rabbits as experimental animals or as a tool to produce biotech products, as well as those involved in breeding, are invited to focus their efforts on this species.
rabbit; human disease model; bioreactor; vaccines
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