Animal models: Humanized animals or failed strategy
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM

Animals & Society Institute (ASI)
April 2014

"The idea is that you can take human immune systems and put them in a mouse and make them functional. Then you can manipulate them as if you were manipulating little human beings without ever putting human patients at risk..."

In 1928, Walt Disney, a Missouri farm boy, produced Mortimer Mouse, the precursor cartoon figure who became an icon of American middle-class culture and values. However, Disney quickly abandoned Mortimer as he looked too much like a rodent. With Steamboat Willy, Disney replaced the prominent rodent snout with the neotenized, cutesy face of the Mickey Mouse that we all came to know. Mickey Mouse and his buddy Donald Duck became "everyperson," that is, every middle class American -- dealing with kids, relatives, money, neighbors, and vacations sometimes in "goofy" ways but always embodying American values.

A new version of the humanized rodent is now in the making and threatening the limited gains we have made in the past few decades in the treatment of animals in the laboratory (Gaitos, "Of mice and man," Science News, March 23, 2014, 183, 6, 22-25). "The idea is that you can take human immune systems and put them in a mouse and make them functional. Then you can manipulate them as if you were manipulating little human beings without ever putting patients at risk" (p. 22, emphasis added).

In the same issue, Saey ("Immune differences between mice and men fuel debate," Science News, March 23, 2014, 183, 6, 10-11) reports that mouse models for sepsis, burns, and other inflammatory diseases vary among themselves and fail to extrapolate reflect to human versions of the target diseases.

At best, two steps back and one forward.


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