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

ific strain of lab mice thought to be particularly anxious. During experiments, the mice are placed in a novel environment and monitored for signs of anxiety such as staying in sheltered rather than exposed space, for example. After drugs are administered, the mice are observed for a reduction in anxious behaviors.

The researchers compared the lab mouse strain now used for Generalized Anxiety Disorder testing to a strain of first-generation wild mice born in captivity. The time-frame of the experiment was extended from a few minutes to as long as 45 hours. Though the lab mice appeared more anxious at first, the scientists discovered that the lab mice eventually settle into calm behavior, while the wild mice exhibit consistently more anxious behavior: "In nature, mice must always be on high alert or they will get preyed upon," explains Prof. Golani.

They believe that the current Generalized Anxiety Disorder methodology for animal models should be revised because of three main experimental fallacies: use of the wrong animal, too short a time-frame, and analysis made at the wrong points in the experiment. These prevent the diagnosis of true chronic mal-behavior, they say.

Replicating results

In their Nature Methods article, the researchers call for similar scrutiny of other behavioral animal models. One important criterion is that findings from experiments conducted using an animal model must be replicable in other labs. The lack of replicability is a problem in the field, they note, which is currently insufficiently addressed by complicated and costly efforts to standardize experimental protocols.

Not every experiment needs to be replicated in many labs, sacrificing more animals, time and money, says Prof. Benjamini. "Developing a collaborative database that draws on the different experiments conducted across the globe, as well as using appropriate data mining tools, can yield the needed yardstick to check
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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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