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Models of the Murine Persuasion Have Limits

It turns out that mice may not make the best models for studying some human conditions. A study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week reports that the genomic response due to inflammatory stresses, such as trauma, burns, and sepsis, in mouse models wasn't an accurate representation of what happened in their human counterparts.

The PNAS paper suggests some ways to improve animal models but the researchers ultimately argue for greater "focus on the more complex human conditions rather than relying on mouse models" at least as far as human inflammatory disease is concerned.

"We're not saying don't use animal models, but we need to recognize that simple model systems do not reproduce complex human disease," Ronald Tompkins, a professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and co-author of the study, tells The Scientist.