There has been an overall decrease in the total number of animals used for scientific procedures in the past 40 years. However, there has been a consistent increase in the breeding and use of genetically modified animals, mostly mice, over the same period.

Genetically modified mice (GMM) have become a routine model for researchers in a number of fields, yet many uncertainties and inconsistencies remain. Specifically, there is concern over the relative efficacy of GMM as an in vivo model for human disease and drug development.

Although some GMM models do provide insights into areas of human disease research, the reliance and assumed ability to correlate results with humans may be overstated and requires significant further analysis.

FRAME scientific officer Kevin Coll and Director of the FRAME Laboratory Dr Andrew Bennett are carrying out a study to predict the relative trajectory of GMM in research and question whether such experiments are valid. Their work will be presented as a poster at the forthcoming World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences in Prague.

Their investigation will look into the scope of the areas of research, the factors related to the rise in numbers, and the varying mechanisms for genetic modification, as well as project where GMM research may be heading. The advantages and limitations of GMM are considered to determine the relevance and applicability of GMM.