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Mice Models Could Cause AMD Research ‘Translational Gap’A Danish university study has called for new guidelines for the use of animal models, saying it could improve the quality of research into age-related macular degeneration.
The study, out of Aarhus University, says researchers investigating wet (neovascular) age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) frequently use young, healthy male mice in animal trials.
“This makes sense from an ethical, financial and time perspective, as mice are inexpensive compared with larger laboratory animals,” says lead study author Bjørn Fabian-Jessing.
“However, AMD is a disease that most frequently occurs in the elderly population, and the disease occurs just as frequently in women – perhaps even slightly more frequently, when you look at ‘wet AMD’.”
AMD is the leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss among elderly people in the Western world.
Published in the scientific journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science (IOVS), the authors have examined the past five years of studies in a model for the disease corresponding to 380 scientific articles.
In a news release issued by Aarhus University, the authors say previous studies have shown a discrepancy between the treatment effects seen in animal studies and in clinical trials in humans.
“We are apparently seeing a ‘translational gap’, because research does not take place in the most relevant animal model.
“Greater biological variation could be achieved by, for example, using more female mice and/ or older animals. This would probably boost the possibility of translating the research to clinical trials – and perhaps, ultimately, reduce the number of laboratory animals, as the results from the preclinical animal testing would in that case be easier to extrapolate” says Dr Fabian-Jessing, who is a medical doctor and PhD student.
“ This makes sense from an ethical, financial and time perspective ”In addition to describing the animal models, the article also focusses on the degree of reporting.
“We can see that many studies fail to report important variables, such as how many mice have been used. This makes it difficult to compare studies and assess the value of the results.
“This is worrying, because it makes it impossible to reproduce the results, and this diminishes their reliability,” Dr Fabian-Jessing said.
CALL FOR CONSENSUS-BASED GUIDELINES
Dr Fabian-Jessing and co-author Professor Thomas Corydon have called for the implementation of concrete guidelines to improve the quality, value and comparability of animal testing.
Prof Corydon has encouraged leading researchers in the area to draw up consensusbased guidelines, as has previously been done for preclinical research in other medical specialties.
“The implementation of higher methodological standards, greater biological variability within the animal models and a greater degree of relevant, detailed reporting will result in higher-quality research, which will be more directly comparable.
“In this way, the overall research field can work better in the same direction – to the benefit of the patients, and perhaps with the help of less laboratory animals, as there will be fewer wasted experiments,” said Prof Corydon.