Using the Knockout Mice Method to Find Relevant Gene Information – Essential Steps and Useful Information
The knockout mice method has been known since 1989, when researchers Martin Evans, Oliver Smithies and Mario R. Capecchi came up with the first successful procedure of creating a healthy knockout mouse that could deliver its knockout gene to its offspring through simple breeding. Since then, the methods used have been perfected, and researchers continue to create and patent new knockout mouse models that are actively used in gene therapy for the purpose of finding enhanced treatments and cures for diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis or Parkinson’s disease.
Why Are Knockout Mouse Methods Used?
In essence, the knockout mice method has to do with the creation of new, genetically altered mouse models featuring inactivated genes that have been replaced or otherwise altered using a piece of artificial DNA. This method has proven efficient primarily due to the fact that humans share a significant number of genes with mice. As a result, researchers can use the information gathered from the tests conducted on knockout mice to find important insight about human genes and human responses to certain chemical or genetic therapies. Aside from their use in countering a number of the most debilitating and dangerous diseases in the world, knockout mice can also be used to find better approaches for dealing with substance abuse, obesity, anxiety and even aging.
The Steps to Making a Knockout Mouse
Using the knockout mice method seems simple on paper, but it’s actually an extremely complex and elaborate process. Researchers begin by using NEO and TK markers to establish the targeting vector, which will later be used to alter vital ES cells through the process of electroporation. Cells can result where the target vector either recombines correctly with the specified gene, knocking out a copy of it, or where the vector recombines in the wrong area. Successful knockout ES cells are selected and injected into an embryo that will become a chimeric mouse aimed to be the parent of the first knockout mouse in a series of generations that will continue to pass down the knockout gene to their offspring.
Large-Scale Knockout Mouse Projects
The knockout mice method has been used successfully in small and large laboratory settings alike. One of the largest projects ever set up using this method include the $52 million project set up by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), aiming to study the process of knocking out all 20,000 protein-encoded genes in the mouse DNA, one by one, over a period of more than 5 years. A few other important projects were set up in many labs throughout the country to study and establish new standardization methods required for phenotypic characterization.
Knockout Mice and Human Gene Function
All the aforementioned initiatives have the possibility to contribute to remarkable new treatments that could save many lives. The connection between knockout mice and human genetics has to do with the fact that 99% of the roughly 20,000-25,000 genes in the human body actually have a mouse DNA counterpart. Although not identical, these mouse genes are similar to their human versions, and this genetic similarity is what allows researchers to study human genes simply by making slight modifications to the mouse DNA. The knockout mice method plays a crucial role here, as knockout mice can easily be used to mimic the symptoms and specific characteristics of the diseases that affect humans the most.