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Effect of Sex

Researchers from Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute have found that sex differences could affect the results of a number of mouse model studies and haved implications for human biomedical research based upon mouse model work, Reuters reports.

The researchers examined phenotypic data from 14,250 wildtype and 40,192 mutant mice — from 2,186 single-gene knockout lines — to find that a number of key traits are influenced by sex. As they report in Nature Communications, the Sanger-led researchers found that sex affected some 56.6 percent of quantitative traits such as bone mass and cholesterol levels and nearly 10 percent of qualitative traits like head shape in the wildtype mice. Additionally, in the mutant mice, sex modified the effect of the mutation in 13.3 percent of qualitative traits and 17.7 percent of quantitative traits.

First author Natasha Karp from the Sanger tells New Scientist that she and her colleagues findings suggest that therapeutics developed using only males might not work as well in females, and that drugs that would work better in females might not have made it far in the drug development process if only males were used.

"Unless there's a really good reason not to, we should be using both sexes in biomedical research," Karp adds.

The US National Institutes of Health has required clinical trials to include women since 1994, and in 2014, required preclinical studies to report whether they were using male or female cells or animals.