Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

UW-Madison Scientists Return To Rat As Biomedical Research Tool

Date:
May 19, 2003
Source:
University Of Wisconsin-Madison
Summary:
Ever a favorite of biologists because of its record as a model to understand ailments like diabetes and cancer, the lab rat lost its luster as a research tool during the past decade because it defied attempts to manipulate its genome in a prescribed way. Now, using a novel combination of tried-and-true techniques, scientists have created the first "knockout" rats, specifically rats whose genomes have been stripped of genes that suppress breast cancer.

MADISON - Ever a favorite of biologists because of its record as a model to understand ailments like diabetes and cancer, the lab rat lost its luster as a research tool during the past decade because it defied attempts to manipulate its genome in a prescribed way.

Related Articles


Now, using a novel combination of tried-and-true techniques, scientists have created the first "knockout" rats, specifically rats whose genomes have been stripped of genes that suppress breast cancer. The development, reported today (May 19) by a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in online editions of the journal Nature Biotechnology, promises to restore the rat to biomedical prominence.

"People have tried for more than 10 years to produce a knockout rat," says Michael N. Gould, a professor of oncology at UW-Madison's McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research and in whose laboratory the work was conducted.

For 100 years, he explains, the rat was the model of choice for many biomedical scientists. But a decade ago, when knockout technology was first widely deployed in the mouse, the sturdy rat was dethroned. Researchers rushed to take advantage of the biomedical possibilities of an animal model whose genome could be manipulated at will, adding or subtracting genes to gain surprising insight into a host of diseases and potential treatments.

The rat, says Gould, had been "compromised by the lack of a full genetic toolbox. Over the last 10 years, the government and drug companies have invested a lot in bringing the rat up to speed. But one of the last major elusive tools for our toolbox was the ability to knock out genes."

The ability to add or subtract genes to an animal's genome lends powerful insight into the basic mechanisms of disease. New methods of disease prevention and treatment in humans, as well as a better basic understanding of development, physiology and pathology have resulted from the ability of scientists to manipulate genes in living animals.

Prior to the advent of the knockout mouse, the rat was "the model of choice for studies in physiology, pathobiology, toxicology and neurobiology," says Gould. "Anybody that gave up rats because there wasn't a knockout technology will likely want to go back" to using them.

The advantages of rats, Gould says, lie in their larger size and the plethora of disease models developed for it during the past century. "This technology gives us the opportunity to use rat models with a modern genetic approach."

For Gould, who studies the genetics that underpin breast cancer, the return of the rat spells new research opportunities because the disease manifests itself differently in the two animals.

"Tumors in the rat have a spectra of hormonal responses that is similar to the human response," he says. "It is our hope that by studying the disease more extensively in rats, we may be able to develop models for prevention and therapy."

Keeping scientists from making rat knockouts was their inability to use rat embryonic stem cells to produce rats, which could be genetically modified, as mouse stem cells are routinely used to make knockout mice. Moreover, no rat has even been produced using nuclear transfer or cloning techniques, another method by which researchers can selectively modify an animal's genome.

The development of the world's first knockout rats by Gould's lab was accomplished using techniques well know to biologists, but that had never before been used in combination with the goal of producing a knockout. Scientists have long known that it is possible to randomly disrupt an animal's genome by injecting certain chemicals. These mutations can then be passed to future generations through simple breeding. By screening the DNA of the progeny of the mutant rats using a method that can accurately pin down changes that occur to functional genes, Gould's group was able to selectively breed out two different knockout rats whose genomes each lacked a gene known to suppress breast cancer.

"None of the technologies we're using are novel," Gould says. "The novelty is how they are combined."

The technique has been patented by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

In addition to Gould, lead co-authors of the Nature Biotechnology paper include Yunhong Zan and Jill D. Haag.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Wisconsin-Madison. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Wisconsin-Madison. "UW-Madison Scientists Return To Rat As Biomedical Research Tool." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 May 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/05/030519083332.htm>.
University Of Wisconsin-Madison. (2003, May 19). UW-Madison Scientists Return To Rat As Biomedical Research Tool. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/05/030519083332.htm
University Of Wisconsin-Madison. "UW-Madison Scientists Return To Rat As Biomedical Research Tool." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/05/030519083332.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins