Are Laboratory Mice Still Considered Ideal Test Subjects?

lab mice ideal subjects

Laboratory mice are small rodents of the species Mus Musculus that are typically bred and kept for scientific research. Lab mice have long been the species of choice in the study of human diseases; in fact, they are typically the first to partake in a lot of preclinical research. However, recently researchers have reported that the model of the lab mouse has actually been misleading in the research of at least three major diseases and ailments, including sepsis, trauma, tuberculosis, cancer and heart disease.

If you plan on enrolling in clinical research courses, or if you have recently started your program, read on to learn more about what these past and recent findings might mean for the future of lab mice in scientific research.

Pharmaceutical Experts Know that Things Aren’t Always What they Seem

A research paper published just a few years ago helped explain why a wide range of drugs which were tested on lab mice with sepsis, failed to function when those same drugs were given to treat human patients with the illness. According to the study, mice can mimic sepsis; however, it is a different condition altogether in humans.

Other research shows a similar outcome with tuberculosis in mice, as it simply does not act as the same disease in mice as in humans. Experts working in a pharmaceutical laboratory know that there are many people who are healthy carriers of the disease, however, there are no mice who are healthy carriers.

Industry Pros Recognize the Main Medical Difference Between Mice and Men

While laboratory mice have been used in pharmaceutical testing for decades, there has always been a major clue that these rodents might not truly mirror humans with regards to bacterial infections and diseases. Evidence shows that it is extremely difficult for a mouse to die from a bacterial infection. In fact, it would take about 1 million times more bacteria in his or her blood to die than what it would take to kill a human. This information is a clear indication that laboratory mice may not always be the best subjects for clinical testing, in fact, in most cases it would be much more beneficial for scientists to get tissues and cells from human patients to work with when they can.

An Uncertain Future for Laboratory Mice…

Although plenty of research indicates that mice are not exactly useful for researching and testing certain diseases, they do have many advantages for other things. Xavier Montagutelli, the head of animal facilities at Institut Pasteur in Paris, argues; “they are small and inexpensive, they reproduce quickly – every three months you obtain a new generation – and they age quickly too, making them ideal for studying age-related complaints. We know how to freeze their embryos, sperm and ova. We now know how to manipulate their genes, adding one, knocking out another, and replace a base pair to see what happens. They are remarkable tools.

However, the fact remains that for many bacterial infections and fatal diseases, these rodents are not similar enough to humans to help scientists effectively understand such diseases, let alone find treatments for them.

Are you interested in learning more by enrolling in clinical research courses in Toronto? Check out our diploma program for more information or to speak with an advisor.