More than 6 million people in the United States are estimated to live with Alzheimer's disease with no current treatment options.

That is why Tim Jarome, an associate professor in the newly formed School of Animal Sciences housed in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and other researchers are developing a pig model of Alzheimer's disease that is much more similar to humans than rodents in many ways.

While there are rodent models of the disease, the reality is that they don't replicate all of the symptoms of the disease itself, which is one reason all clinical trials for Alzheimer’s drugs have failed to date.

The research is funded by a $446,000, two-year grant from the National Institute on Aging, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.

A pig’s brain structure, cardiovascular systems, and pulmonary, immune, and metabolic systems are more similar to a human's than rodents. Pigs also are very intelligent and can do very complicated behavioral tasks that rodents can't.