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Transformation of Mouse Models Revolutionizes Cancer Research

  • Posted on January 14, 2015 by Pharma Models Blogging Team in Oncology

Cancer research has advanced tremendously over the years due to the significant benefits of mouse model studies. However, it has taken longer than anticipated to develop cancer drugs that are both effective in animal models and human clinical trials. Cancer research has only a 10 percent success rate of drugs that are both compelling in humans and mice, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Due to this, researchers have been restructuring mouse model studies in order to improve future clinical trials and cancer drugs. One example comes from Columbia University where mouse models are genetically engineered to grow pancreatic tumors. Dr. Kenneth Olive has created a laboratory where mice are given ultrasounds, surgeries, and therapies to better understand the biology of pancreatic cancer and develop better treatments for mankind. A different animal model uses grafting to place cancerous tissue from human patients into mice.

Mouse models have brought us a greater grasp of human cancer development and metastasis. Mice are useful animal models because they share similar anatomical and molecular traits to humans such as a comparable immune system and genetic mechanisms. More recent discoveries continue to help the scientific community learn about the methods of tumorigenesis and establish superior cancer diagnostics and treatments, researchers from the National Cancer Institute wrote in a paper.

New mouse models are now able to more accurately display human cancers by better regulating the timing and locations of genetic mutations. Additionally, with the help of genetically-engineered mouse models, researchers have now determined that the microenvironment plays an important role in cancer development.

Essentially, mouse models have shown the effects of the immune system on tumor development, the initiation of cancer and metastasis, and the importance of molecular differences in human cancers.

While there have been improvements in the prevention and early detection of this disease, medical professionals have limited resources for treating already entrenched cancers. Human illnesses – even the same type – vary drastically due to the differences present in the genetics, diet, and environment of each person. Researchers have more recently begun controlling these type of variables in mouse model studies in hopes of improving the success of new cancer drugs. One instance of this is when researchers control the genetic background in a mouse model while examining how diet or carcinogens affect cancer.

One of the reasons why many cancer drugs fail in later clinical trials but succeed in pre-clinical animal research may be due to fact that cancer stroma in human patients accords a supportive microenvironment for tumorigenesis. However, mouse models engineered with cell-specific human cancer-associated aberrations solve many of these problems. Early studies illustrate that de novo mouse cancer models may be more effective and could open up a new era for genetic engineering.

The restructuring of mouse model studies continues to advance cancer research. Animal pre-clinical trials will persist in playing a vital role for scientific advancement for generations into the future.

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Categories: Oncology

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