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A new kind of rat model
Date:9/13/2007

Two neuroscientists at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) are working with local company PhysioGenix to investigate a novel animal model the company has developed for researching diseases like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and ADHD.

The models are genetically altered rats, originally created by researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) as a way to clone genes related to human diseases. Called consomic rats, they were produced by replacing a single chromosome from the genetic background of a diseased rat with the same chromosome from a normal rat.

In theory, if the new strain is cured of a disease, then the genes responsible for the disease are either on the transferred chromosome or somehow related to it. Consomic rats can be used to rapidly identify new genes and cellular targets associated with certain diseases and to develop and test the efficacy of new drug therapies.

In fact, the consomic rats have already proved useful in studies of cardiovascular disease and hypertension the main reason for their development.

The process of identifying which genes are the players in certain complex diseases or behaviors is much quicker using consomic rats than by traditional gene-hunting methods, says Steven Nye, director of genomics at PhysioGenix and principal investigator of the National Institutes of Health grant for commercializing the consomic rats.

PhysioGenix, a spin-off company founded by researchers at MCW, has contracted with UWM Psychology Professors Rodney Swain and Fred Helmstetter to characterize the rats behaviors in a battery of psychological tests to confirm whether chromosome substitution improves their conditions.

The task is daunting, considering there are 44 strains of consomic rats and potentially hundreds of psychological tests to choose from.

Currently, Swain and Helmstetter are probing their efficacy in identifying the genetic roots of psychological di
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Contact: Steven Nye
snye@PhysioGenix.com
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Source:Eurekalert

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