A new study published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) has concluded that mouse models, prevalent in most scientific facilities, may not be ideal substitutes for humans in certain areas of research. Specifically, researchers found that mice did not make good models for the effects of certain inflammatory diseases on humans.
The team that conducted the research into mouse models concluded that using them may have led other researchers down the wrong scientific path in reaching their conclusions in studies revolving around sepsis, burns, and trauma. The team also implied that the effectiveness of using mouse models in other disease research deserves another look.
Here is some of the key information that emerged on Monday regarding this study into the efficacy of mouse models in scientific research.
* While they were not able to delve into deeper research, study author Dr. H. Shaw Warren said that the team's preliminary findings raise "the possibility that a parallel situation may be present" in regards to research focused on other diseases like cancer, as quoted by the New York Times.
* Warren and his team had the idea to research the efficacy of using mouse models to substitute for humans after 150 different medications that had been developed to treat sepsis failed to work. It turned out that every medication had been developed using mouse models to substitute for humans.
* The problem turned out, in part, to be that mice can develop a disease that looks and acts very much like sepsis in human beings, but is in fact entirely different.
* According to the PNAS report, the study was conducted over the course of 10 years and involved the participation of 39 different researchers spread across the United States.
* A Bloomberg article on Tuesday suggested that there were other possible explanations as to why sepsis research that substituted mice for humans has not proven effective, and that researchers should not assume that mouse models are completely useless. Among those mentioned was that model mice may be too inbred, or that the modelling of these studies is not an accurate representation of the actual illnesses affecting trauma patients.
* Dr. Richard Hotchkiss, a Washington University sepsis researcher who was not involved in the PNAS study, told the New York Times on Monday that this new research shows scientists that "to understand sepsis, you have to go to the patients," which involves collecting cell and tissue samples.
Vanessa Evans is a musician and freelance writer based in Michigan, with a lifelong interest in health and nutrition issues.
- Science, Social Science, & Humanities
- National Academy of Sciences