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Monthly Animal Model Roundup: February

Monthly Animal Model Roundup February

Every month, the ingenious team reviews some of the most exciting new research using mouse, rat, and rabbit models. Here are the top stories for February, all in one place for your convenience.

The Relationship Between Alzheimer’s And Gum Disease

Using mice, researchers at the University of Louisville have identified a connection between Alzheimer’s and gum disease. After detecting the presence of Porphyromonas gingivalis in the brains of deceased AD patients, they began to investigate the possible relationship in mouse models. Scientists administered P. gingivalis to mice and found that oral gum infection led to brain colonization, and observed greater amyloid production in the brain, which is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, proteases released by the bacteria called gingipains were also found in the brain, and the levels correlated with tau and ubiquitin pathology, also common with Alzheimer’s. Interestingly, the toxic proteases could also be found in brains of people who were never diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. This implies that when P. gingivalis enters the brain as a result of oral infection, it may lead to AD over time.

For the past few decades, Alzheimer’s research has focused on developing drugs to prevent amyloid buildup in the brain. This study could open the door to further research that approaches Alzheimer’s as an infection, not a disease.

The full paper, published in Science Advances, can be accessed here.

Mouse Models Help Discover How To Turn Off Melanoma Mutations

Researchers from Boston University have discovered how to inhibit the activity of a mutant melanoma-causing gene called NRAS, which is responsible for about 25% of all melanoma cases, thanks to work with mouse models. These findings were recently published in Cell. Although melanoma is known as the deadliest form of skin cancer, there have not been any therapies that successfully target the NRAS gene. The team of researchers identified STK19 as an enzyme that regulates NRAS activity. By inhibiting STK19 in mice, they inhibited NRAS from signaling, which allowed the mice to live longer. When STK19 was added back, NRAS signaling was restored. Although this new therapy still needs more tests before moving onto a clinical trial, it shows promise for STK19 as a target for future cancer treatments.

Read the full study by clicking here.

Mice Used To Explore Link Between Schizophrenia And Gut Bacteria

In a study published in Science Advances, scientists worked with mouse models to find an association between schizophrenia (SCZ) and gut bacteria. They initially examined fecal samples from patients diagnosed with SCZ, as well as healthy individuals. During this examination, scientists noticed that individuals with SCZ generally had less diverse microbiomes compared to individuals who did not have this mental disorder. From there, scientists administered these fecal samples to germ-free mice for the purpose of studying possible changes in behavior. They observed that the healthy mice who had received the fecal samples from patients afflicted with schizophrenia exhibited symptoms that were similar to those seen in mouse models of schizophrenia. In addition, the affected mice had alternations in their glutamate signaling, which has long been hypothesized to have an association with schizophrenia. This shows that a lack of microbial diversity could have an impact on neurological function.

Traditionally, scientists have looked to cure SCZ through the brain. However, this study has brought to light that it may be possible to treat this mental disorder by targeting the gut.

Click here to read the study.