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Dirty mouse will help in the study of human immunity

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According to scientists, the experimental white mice, which are often involved for the first stage testing of new tools or methods for treatment of humans, is withdrawn in a too sterile environment, their immune system much worse cope with their functions than their wild counterparts.


Immune system gray mice are more similar to immune system of an adult.

To confirm this, scientists from the University of Minnesota developed a new way of the study of mice, which better mimics the immune system of adults and can drastically improve the methods of testing potential therapeutic agents. In a study published in the journal Nature, the scientists describe the limitations of laboratory mice in terms of their use in the field of immunology.

“Standard laboratory mice do not reflect important features of the immune system of an adult. We would like to know this is because laboratory animals are protected from germs with which wild mouse face in nature, or is it due to other mechanisms,” said Stephen Jameson (Stephen Jameson , Ph.D. Professor), one of the study”s authors, Professor in the Department of laboratory medicine and pathology and member, Center for immunology University of Minnesota. In his opinion, the role of laboratory mice for basic research in immunology it is difficult to underestimate, but it is important to find the best way to simulate the complex immune system of an adult.

For the experiment a group of scientists caught grey (“dirty”) mice, living on farms, and bought white (“domesticated”) in a pet store. They then carefully compared their immune system with the human. The gray cells of mice were established, similar to those that exist in adults, distribution in the tissues of these cells was also similar. In contrast, in the immune system of laboratory mice, which are protected from natural microbial exposure were identified as properties that are most similar to the immune system of a newborn human.

When genetically uniform lab mice were placed together with grey mice, it is possible to restore the natural microbial background and made the immune system of white mice to adapt and better meet the immune system of adults.

“This model could serve as an important complement to basic research in immunology to the study of many biological processes and diseases,” said David Masopust (David Masopust), co-author, associate Professor of Microbiology and immunology and member of the Center for immunology University of Minnesota. “Using grey mice to test vaccines and therapeutic agent for the treatment of cancer or transplantation, scientists will be better able to predict what will happen to these processes in the human body.”

The use of standard laboratory mice allowed to make multiple breakthroughs in the field of biomedical discoveries, including research that led to the recent advances in cancer immunotherapy. However, this study shows that the immune system in laboratory mice cannot be fully engaged without a more complete microbial exposure. Therefore, the so-called “dirty mouse” can help make a significant step forward compared to the current models, providing increased translational potential for human disease.

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