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Uncovering a flaw in drug testing for chronic anxiety disorder
Date:12/13/2012

Pre-clinical trials the stage at which medications or therapies are tested on animals like laboratory mice is a crucial part of drug development. It's only then that scientists can assess benefits and side effects before a drug is administered to patients.

Now, Prof. Ilan Golani of Tel Aviv University's Department of Zoology and Sagol School for Neuroscience and his fellow researchers Prof. Yoav Benjamini of TAU's Department of Statistics and Operations Research and the Sagol School of Neuroscience, and Dr. Ehud Fonio of the Weizmann Institute are questioning the animal models used for measuring chronic disorders such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Using a hundred-times longer experimental time-frame and comparing lab mice with wild mice, the researchers found that the lab mice used do not actually experience chronic anxiety.

Instead, the researchers found that the behavior exhibited by the mice in the first minutes of an experiment is only a temporary response to a new environment. With time, the mice revert back to their true temperaments lab mice have calm temperaments and wild mice are anxious. This discovery, which has been reported in the journals PLOS One and Nature Methods, could explain why most candidate drugs developed using this mouse model have poor therapeutic value in treating human brain disorders, says Prof. Golani.

Back to the wild

Because of their genetic similarity to humans, mice are the most commonly used lab animals. Countless hours and billions of dollars have been spent developing mouse models, whose genes can be engineered to mimic human diseases and disorders. And while many of these models have made invaluable contributions to the advancement of research into Parkinson's disease and various cancers, others have proven less effective.

A chronically anxious mouse model is crucial to test anti-anxiety therapies, says Prof. Golani. Currently, scientists use a spec
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert

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