Know the reason behind Genomic research being done on domesticated animals in the lab : The study of the effects of individual chemical constituents of drugs on animals helps the researchers understand the optimal treatment regimens that minimize the side-effects on humans.
Genomic research and Studies on animals in the lab can provide a potential cure for many types of cancer
Over the last several decades, studies have been conducted on inbred strains of mice. They are almost genetically identical to human beings, and the effect of chemotherapeutic drugs on these mice is very similar to that on humans. Apart from similarities in genes, certain mammals like mice, rats and monkeys have similar protein expression profiles. The study of their transcriptome can shed new light on the expression and progression of genetic diseases. NGS has opened up new avenues for researchers to continue RNA-sequencing of samples obtained from patients as well as standardized transcriptome of healthy specimen for studying the effects of genetic diseases and their responses to specific treatment.
The case is quite similar for the development of treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It is a cancer of the lymph nodes that used to be incurable even a couple of decades ago. Today, the prognosis of the disease is much better and available chemotherapeutic treatments not only limit cancer but keep the patient in remission for a long time. The ability of researchers to study chronic diseases and their response to chemotherapy on models very similar to humans has helped in the evolution of successful treatment plans for cancer victims. Other modern treatment options, including bone marrow transplant, make it possible for the survivor to live a long and healthy life.
Animal models can provide the treatment for degenerative diseases in humans
Certain diseases are results on small but critical mutations in the genome that persist at the RNA levels as well. The transcription of these RNAs lead to the production of “defective” proteins that interfere with a cell’s metabolic or signaling pathways. The discovery of the role of mutations in the RNA that can cause diseases is comparatively new. Whether these arise from point mutations or larger IN/DEL deletions; they impact the protein expression at the cellular level. RNA-seq analysis is the only way to spot the specific location of these mutations and learn about their heritability. Studies of degenerative and incurable disorders like ALS, frontotemporal dementias (FTD), and myotonic dystrophy have become possible due to the presence of animal models and their RNA-seq data in the lab.
It was once difficult due to RNA’s transient and unstable nature, and their high tissue specificity. However, the advent of new sequence analysis and data archiving methods has made transcriptome analysis of any tissue possible within a short timeframe. Visit Basepair’s solutions to RNA Seq data for more details on the analysis of differential expressions of RNA, and the quantification of transcriptome. Therefore, clinical tests on inbred mice give a thorough insight into the drug interactions, side effects, and dosage indications during human use.
Transplant rejection studies and Genomic research on animals can save millions of lives
That brings us to organ transplant, which is not only a complex field of surgery, but it deals with aspects of immunology and pathology. Without the early experimentations on mice and other animals similar to humans, it would have been impossible for the immunologists and surgeons to perform successful transplants. Researchers uncovered the factors (major histocompatibility complexes, or MHC) that were responsible for the rejection of organs in the host, by studying organ rejection in immune-deficient mice.
When one group of researchers discovered the role of MHC in organ rejection, another group began to work on immunosuppressant drugs that could suppress the immune reaction to organs that did not match the donor’s MHC. Their research on mice increased the chances of survival of the patients who had received organ transplants since the MHC of mice is very similar to that of human beings. Close to 6,000 living donations happen every year in the US. According to data from the Organ Procurement Transplantation Network (OPTN), over 30,000 transplants were performed in 2015!
Genomic research on animals form a prominent part of preclinical trials
Apart from chemotherapeutic drugs, researchers need to test the effectiveness and side-effects of other pharmaceutical compounds. A close study of the immunological factors involved in the process helps in determining the influence of the drugs on human pathology and the prognosis of a disease. Every drug requires preclinical trials before they can move to clinical trial phases. During the preclinical studies, the research is conducted in vitro (cell lines) and in vivo (animals) experiments. These stages are instrumental in determining –
- The usefulness of a drug, or procedure in treating a condition or disease.
- The toxicity and lethal dose of a compound of interest.
- The optimal dosage of the compound for the treatment of target diseases or conditions.
Although the in vivo preclinical studies are brief, they provide critical information that can move the drug or procedure or treatment forward to its clinical trials.
The FDA does not approve any new drug or procedure that does not show promising results in its clinical trial phases. Clinical trials of a particular medicine or medical procedure highlight the risks, contraindications, and advantages of a new drug, device, and/or therapy. It enables the researchers, doctors, and the consumer or patients to obtain complete information. The genetic likeness of rats, mice, pigs, and primates make them ideal candidates for preclinical trials in many countries.
Experimentation on genetically similar animals can open new doors for psychotherapeutics
Apart from chemotherapy and organ transplant, preclinical trials play critical roles in the development of medication that can treat chronic and acute mental illnesses, including chronic depression and bipolar disorder. The genetic similarity of the murine and porcine families have made them ideal candidates for the testing of serotonin-reuptake-inhibitor compounds and other drugs that bear the promise of remission from mental health problems.
One of the most popular instances is the development of different compounds containing lithium (for example, lithium carbonate) for the treatment of manic depression or bipolar disorder. In the early 1940s, lithium was rampantly used as a substitute for sodium in low-sodium diets. High doses led to intoxication and several deaths in the same decade. Therefore, it was denied acceptance, although there were multiple instances of lithium-mediated treatment of manic disorder and bipolar disorder. It took another two decades of extensive animal study for the scientific community to accept it as an effective treatment for mental disorders.
Why studies on animals in labs must go on
There are several stories from cancer survivors, chronic depression victims and survivors of acute bacterial infections that would seem like miracles even three or four decades ago due to the lack of information that scientists, and medical professionals now have from animal studies. It is strange to think that the mention of animal testing can be found in the works of Aristotle in the 4th and 3rd century BCE. Although the study of genomic research and medical research on animals can raise some ethical issues, their genomic similarity to human beings makes them the best candidates for preclinical research. It reduces the risks of the participants of clinical trials for drugs, including chemotherapy and procedures like transplants. Their genetic similarity makes their immune system very similar to that of humans. That makes it possible for the researchers to test new vaccines like polio, measles, and tetanus for the safety of administration.
Know the reason behind Genomic research being done on domesticated animals in the lab