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Mice and rats play an enormous role in the development of new medical miracles, from the development of a new cancer drug to the testing of dietary supplements. According to the Biomedical Research Foundation (FBR), 95% of laboratory animals are rats and mice. Scientists and researchers trust mice and rats for several reasons. One of them is comfort: rodents are small, easy to place and maintain and adapt well to the new environment. They also reproduce quickly, they have a short life span of two to three years, so several generations of mice can be seen in a relatively short time.
Most mice and rats used in medical studies are inbred, making them nearly genetically identical, save for gender differences. According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, this will help make medical test results more consistent. At a minimum, mice used in experiments should be of the same purebred species.
Another reason rodents are used as a model in medical studies is that their genetic, biological, and behavioral characteristics are very similar to those of humans, and many of the symptoms of human conditions are reproducible in mice and rats.
In the last two decades, these similarities have grown even stronger. Scientists can now breed so-called genetically modified mice, such as "transgenic mice" that carry genes like those that cause human disease. Similarly, selected genes can be inactivated or inactivated to create “knockout mice” that can be used to assess the effects of carcinogenic chemicals and drug safety based on FBR.
Rodents are also effective research animals because researchers have a good understanding of their anatomy, physiology, and genetics, making it easier to know what changes in behavior or characteristics of mice are caused by them.
According to the FBR, some rodents, called severe joint immunodeficiency (SCID) mice, are born naturally without an immune system and thus can serve as models for research into normal and malignant human tissues.
Mice are also used for behavioral, sensory, aging, nutritional, and genetic tests, as well as for testing anti-lust drugs that can break drug addiction.
Interestingly, mice have been used for more than a century. The first use in genetics dates back to 1902. These animals are the most widely used in Great Britain.
Information collected by Dezső Sándor.