This content is available for informational purposes, intended for those who are interested in working with mouse models to further their research.
Humanized Mice: Use Cases for Studying Human Immunity
With the advancement of modern techniques and technologies used for genetic manipulation, humanized mice have become an important asset in the field of genetic research. These mice are used to mimic human conditions and apply potential therapies more efficiently, without any of the risks involved with using human patients.
The Basics of Humanized Mouse Models
What are humanized mice? To put it simply, they are animal models used as a type of surrogate of various parts of human biology. Some may only have human cells, while others might share many genetic and physiologic properties with humans. Because the mouse genome is close in similarity to that of humans, and because there are multiple ways to manipulate it, there are many components of mouse biology that can easily be adapted to faithfully mimic human biological qualities.
Using Humanized Mice in Medical and Genetic Research
Humanized models have been used in many different fields of research. At first, these mouse models were used to study the progression of current medical research and the application of specific drugs and treatments. Because human pathogens are specific to the human species, the development of the first humanized mouse models helped researchers learn more about them.
In the field of genetic manipulation, humanization has been used to an increasing extent over the years. Manipulating gene expression through methods such as CRISPR, and other techniques designed to obtain knockout and knockin genes, has played a large role in the world of medical and genetic research.
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What Diseases are Humanized Mice Used to Study?
Immune system and blood disorders were some of the first diseases that humanized mice were used to help find new therapies and drugs. Developed mouse strains were capable not only of an impressive rate of human cell engraftment, but also of facilitating the analysis of human disease and cell functionality in vivo. The fields of hematology and immunology have greatly benefited from the development of new humanized mouse models over the years, and other fields were to follow as well. The study of cancer, infectious diseases, HIV, and regenerative medicine have also greatly advanced due to the increased development of more accurate animal models.
Humanized Mouse Models in COVID-19 Studies
Several transgenic humanized models carrying small-scale partially humanized gene expression units for human ACE2 receptors have been attempted thus far. However, there is no clear model that is preferred for studying SARS-CoV-2 infection as the clinical signs, recovery, and transmission vary between and within these models, no terminal-lung outcomes, undesired replication in the brain and lack of multi-organ failure upon infection. Though these models are in use for COVID-19 research, there needs to be humanized mice generated in which the entire genomic ACE2 mouse locus is replaced by the entire human ACE2 locus. However, before their application in SARS-CoV-2, they must be aptly validated and ascertained that these mouse models could replicate the same pathogenesis as seen in humans. The researchers using these mouse strains should be careful in interpreting the data obtained from these mouse models.
The Future of Humanized Models in Research
When it comes to the use of humanized mouse models for the purpose of genetic manipulation and research, the future is bright. As new genetic and technological tools continue to be developed, humanized strains are becoming increasingly more complex. As a result, scientists are increasingly better at targeting certain genes and making sure that they’re targeting the correct ones. Whether they’re used in the research of viruses and human disorders, or the study of how the human body would react to certain substances, humanized mice will only become more essential for scientists around the world.
Last updated: March 10th, 2021