For over a century, people around the world have used laboratory mice as models for medical tests and experiments.
These small rodents are closely related to the house mouse ( Mus musculus ) – an animal that has become accustomed to living in close contact with humans, whose home provides it with both protection and food.
Want to know why these animals are perfect for use in experiments? In today’s article we will tell you why mice are the chosen animal model.
It is, after all, thanks to these animals that researchers have made great strides in curing serious heart disease, immunodeficiency and cancer.
What are animal models?
Animal models are often used in life sciences such as medicine or biology.
In fact, humans have used animals in experiments since before the time of the ancient Greeks, except in the Middle Ages when the laws introduced by the Catholic Church forbade the desecration of dead bodies.
Previously, researchers conducted experiments on both animals and humans. However, the introduction of the Nuremberg Convention after World War II prohibited the use of human testing in the development of new drugs.
Scientists have sequenced genomes from all animal models used in experiments, allowing researchers to extrapolate the results of a study and apply them to other animals, including humans.
According to the US National Defense Research Committee, an animal model is defined as:
The use of animal models allows researchers to have a greater understanding of biology and pathophysiology of diseases that affect both humans and other animals.
After all, much of the research in laboratories can also be applied in veterinary medicine.
Why laboratory mice as models?
Researchers use a variety of animals in scientific experiments: mice, rats, rabbits, dogs, pigs, sheep, frogs, flies, monkeys, etc. But the animal model that is used most of all is mice – in over 50% of cases.
There are many reasons why mice are the animal model you choose:
- As mammals, their biological processes are very similar to those of humans.
- The time between one generation of mice and the next is very short.
- They adapt easily to life in the laboratory’s animal facilities.
- They are small and easy to handle and are not easily stressed by human contact.
- In addition to humans, mice are one of the most genetically engineered mammals.
- There are many different strains of mice. This makes them perfect for studies of genetic mutations such as cancer.
- It is the only animal model whose stem cells have been successfully cultured in vitro.
- After studying laboratory mice for more than a century, humans now have extensive knowledge of their biology, genetics and behavior.
Thanks to laboratory mice, researchers have succeeded in making great strides in the investigation of autoimmune diseases and cancer.
However, it is important to remember that these animals are sentient beings, with their own needs and a well-defined and well-known ethology.