Transgenic animals used to study human diseases
Transgenic Animals As Model Systems For Human Diseases by Erwin WagnerSome of the current concepts used in transgenic research, an increasingly important tool to study the regulation and function of genes, are illustrated in this book. With these techniques, animal models can be used to study human diseases; this opens up new possibilities in both applied and basic research. Specifically, the ability to introduce genes into the germline of mice and the successful expression of the inserted gene within an organism provide new insights and opportunities for biomedical research. The discussion here shows how a detailed analysis of the underlying molecular mechanisms will provide new insights into the genetic origin of certain diseases and will lead to a better understanding of normal and abnormal physiological processes.
Transgenic animals as models for human disease
What do transgenic animals offer apart from quirky phenotypes? Dr Robin Lovell-Badge outlined a variety of practical uses of transgenic animals. Genetically sterilised animals, such as mosquitoes, could be used for population control. Transgenic farm animals can also act as bioreactors to produce valuable proteins, for example transgenic cows, which produce human milk proteins in their milk. But the most crucial role of transgenic animals according to Lovell-Badge is their contribution to helping us understand disease.
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Except in the case of highly controlled and regulated clinical trials, geneticists and scientists do not use humans for their experimental investigations because of the obvious risk to life. Instead, they use various animal, fungal, bacterial, and plant species as model organisms for their studies. Some such species are described in Table 1. When animal models are employed in the study of human disease, they are frequently selected because of their similarity to humans in terms of genetics, anatomy, and physiology. Also, animal models are often preferable for experimental disease research because of their unlimited supply and ease of manipulation.
Transgenic Research. Transgenic animals, especially mice, have been used quite extensively as models for various human diseases. At first, the level of scientific inquiry was driven by the need to establish the model. In many cases, these models may be considered quite crude because of their limitations. More recently, transgenic models of disease have become more refined and are currently being used to study the pathological mechanisms behind the disease rather than to just provide a model of the disease.
Transgenic Animals Key to Human Disease Research
Neither science nor society may be ready for the direct manipulation of the human genome, but a technique for directing the genetic make-up of animals is being used in some of the most exciting biomedical research today. This technique involves inserting a foreign gene into the chromosome of an animal. The animal, called transgenic, then expresses that gene along with its normal genes. Transgenic animals are being used in basic science research to elucidate events that range from the development of the embryo to events that occur decades later in people who have autoimmune diseases. These studies will help scientists understand the cause of many diseases and may point the way to their treatment.