Monday, 2 April 2012

Warm, Comfy Mice Make Better Lab Specimens

Scientists hope to make mice comfier in their lab homes, not just to boost the rodents' well-being but also to make them more humanlike and better models for drug studies.

The problem, they say, is that mice kept in labs for medical studies are typically cold, and the resulting stress can change the physiology of the animal. The result may be one reason why nine out of 10 drugs that seem to work in lab mice and other animal models ultimately fail to work in humans, the researchers add.

"If you want to design a drug that will help a patient in the hospital, you cannot reasonably do that in animals that are cold-stressed and are compensating with an elevated metabolic rate," Joseph Garner, associate professor of comparative medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, said in a statement. "This will change all aspects of their physiology, such as how fast the liver breaks down a drug, which can't help but increase the chance that a drug will behave differently in mice and in humans."
The solution may be easy: just provide the mice with nesting materials.

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