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The humanization of animals is a powerful tool for the exploration of human disease pathogenesis in biomedical research, as well as for the development of therapeutic interventions with enhanced translational potential. Humanized models enable us to overcome biological differences that exist between humans and other species, whilst giving us a platform to study human processes in vivo. To become humanized, an immune deficient recipient is engrafted with cells, tissues or organoids. The mouse is the most well studied of these hosts, with a variety of immunodeficient strains available for various specific uses. More recently, efforts have turned to the humanization of other animal species such as the rat, which offers some technical and immunological advantages over mice. These advances, together with ongoing developments in the incorporation of human transgenes and additional mutations in humanized mouse models, have expanded our opportunities to replicate aspects of human allotransplantation and to assist in the development of immunotherapies. In this review, the immune and tissue humanization of various species is presented with an emphasis on their potential for use as models for allotransplantation, graft versus host disease and regenerative medicine.

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