Knockout Mice Purpose
Researching Knockout Mice – Purpose and Understanding of Long Term Benefits
When it comes to knockout mice, their purpose in research has already had a profound effect on our understanding of human genetics. We’re uncovering the underlying causes of conditions like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and many other debilitating disorders. Genetic research conducted on mice has helped advance our knowledge beyond anything scientists were able to achieve in the past.
Understanding and Creating Knockout Mice for Research
Before examining the advantages of knockout mice, it’s important to understand their purpose and how they are created. The modern era of genetically modified mice began in the 1980s when researchers developed methods for changing the sequence of the mouse genome. Originally it was only possible to add new DNA sequences and there was a high degree of randomness causing unpredictable results. Soon people found ways to make more precise changes to the mouse genome, including changes that could disrupt the function of a single gene to create knockout mice. These mice can be normal and healthy in every way except for the changes to their DNA that inactivate one specific gene. The target gene in knockout mice is chosen depending on the purpose of the scientists’ research. For example, it may be known that a gene plays a role in preventing cancer, but the mechanism is unclear. Creating knockout mice with disruptions in that gene can unlock its function and even lead to development of new medicines.
What Is the True Potential of Knockout Mouse Research?
Using knockout mice as models, researchers are able to tap into the link between the DNA’s blueprint and the sometimes unexplained diseases that have similar effects on humans and mice alike. The relatively short lifespans of mice means it’s possible to determine the effects of a gene knockout from birth right through old age. It’s also possible to observe the entire course of a disease such as cancer and test newly-developed medicines. While mice are not 100% perfect as test subjects used for studying human diseases, they hold great promise for future research goals. Thanks to animal models, research on genetics has advanced further than we ever anticipated.
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