The Relevance of Genetically Altered Mouse Models of Human Disease

Nirmala Bhogal and Robert Combes

The impetus to develop useful models of human disease and toxicity has resulted in a number of large-scale mouse mutagenesis programmes. This, in turn, has stimulated considerable concern regarding the scientific validity and welfare of genetically altered mice, and the large numbers of mice that are required by such programmes. In this paper, the scientific advantages and limitations of genetically altered mice as models of several human diseases are discussed. We conclude that, while the use of some such mouse models has contributed considerably to an understanding of human disease and toxicity, other genetically altered mouse models have limited scientific relevance, and fewer have positively contributed to the development of novel human medicines. Suggestions for improving this unsatisfactory situation are made.
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