Modern mice pose a challenge for medical research

The environment in which laboratory mice are reared can drastically alter the results of experiments and may have major implications for medical research around the world, according to new Australian data presented today at a meeting of The International Behavioral Neuroscience Society.

Mice have traditionally been housed in open cages where pheromones, in urine, and sounds could be exchanged between animals across cages.

Modern housing is based on a system of individually ventilated cages that block sounds and micro-filter the air entering each cage.

Dr. Tim Karl, at Australia, is studying the effects of open cages versus individually ventilated cages on the of genetically altered mice used in schizophrenia research (neuregulin 1 ).

“Our research so far shows that keeping mice in individually ventilated cages affects the way genes impact upon schizophrenia-like behaviour, making these mice less valid for schizophrenia research”, says Dr. Karl.

“Furthermore, animals housed in individually ventilated cages respond differentially from mice reared in open cages when given psychotropic drugs and this will have important consequences for pharmacological experiments.”

“The bulk of medical research is done using genetically altered mice. Ours is the first study to show an impact of this new housing form on a genetic mouse model for brain disorders and highlights the need for caution when comparing data between labs that house mice differently”, Dr. Karl concluded.

Laboratory rodents such as mice and rats are widely used in studies of diseases, drug research and patterns of thinking and problem-solving because they are easy to breed, can be altered genetically, and the outcomes of experiments can be extrapolated to explain certain patterns in humans.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers find mice cages alter brains

Jul 16, 2010

Researchers at the University of Colorado's Anschutz Medical Campus have found the brains of mice used in laboratories worldwide can be profoundly affected by the type of cage they are kept in, a breakthrough that may require ...

Schizophrenia improved by mental and physical exercise

Aug 02, 2007

Dr Anthony Hannan, along with Dr Caitlin McOmish, Emma Burrows and colleagues, characterised a genetically altered mouse and discovered that it had schizophrenia-like behaviours, including learning and memory problems, the ...

Importance of sex-specific testing shown in anxiety study

Oct 15, 2008

An Australian study has flagged an important truth for the medical research community. Like their human counterparts, male and female mice are not only different, their respective genetic responses can often be the reverse ...

Recommended for you

Growing a blood vessel in a week

Oct 24, 2014

The technology for creating new tissues from stem cells has taken a giant leap forward. Three tablespoons of blood are all that is needed to grow a brand new blood vessel in just seven days. This is shown ...

Testing time for stem cells

Oct 24, 2014

DefiniGEN is one of the first commercial opportunities to arise from Cambridge's expertise in stem cell research. Here, we look at some of the fundamental research that enables it to supply liver and pancreatic ...

Team finds key signaling pathway in cause of preeclampsia

Oct 23, 2014

A team of researchers led by a Wayne State University School of Medicine associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology has published findings that provide novel insight into the cause of preeclampsia, the leading cause ...

Rapid test to diagnose severe sepsis

Oct 23, 2014

A new test, developed by University of British Columbia researchers, could help physicians predict within an hour if a patient will develop severe sepsis so they can begin treatment immediately.

User comments