A University of Iowa research team will develop an innovative pig model to better understand a rare genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis (NF) thanks to a $931,395 grant from the Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF). The funding is part of a three-year, $1.7 million grant that the CTF has awarded to the UI team and their collaborators from Sanford Health and University of Arizona.

Neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1), which affects one in 3,000 people worldwide, is caused by a mutation in the neurofibromatosis type 1 gene. The condition can cause tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body and may lead to blindness, bone abnormalities, cancer, deafness, disfigurement, learning challenges, and disabling pain.

The UI researchers led by David Meyerholz, associate professor of pathology, will genetic engineer pigs to carry a common human NF1 gene mutation. These modified pigs will be a better animal model for NF1 than mice and will advance understanding of the disease.

“Studying a more authentic animal model of NF1, and doing comparative analyses in NF1 patients, will directly benefit people with NF1 mutations,” says Meyerholz, who is co-principal investigator of the CTF NF1 Synodos Consortium. “We expect that these studies will lead to earlier and more informative diagnoses, as well as more effective targeted therapies to treat individual patients.”

The CTF is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to finding effective treatments for the millions of people worldwide living with NF.

In addition to Meyerholz, the UI research team includes Ben Darbro, Dawn Quelle, Jessica Sieren, and Adam Dupuy.


David Meyerholz, Pathology, 319-353-4589