Optimising GM mouse research

29 March 2011

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Category: Research & medical benefits

how–gm-mouse.jpg'The MRC is absolutely committed to basic research and we understand the value of mouse genetics', said Professor Sir John Savill, CEO of the Medical Research Council today, announcing a multi-million pound investment in mouse genetics.

MRC is to invest in excess of £60m over the next five years into mouse genetics research at its facilities in Oxfordshire; its Mammalian Genetics Unit (MGU) and the Mary Lyon Centre (MLC). The scientists there work to create mouse models to study a wide range of human diseases from diabetes to Parkinson's disease. It is hoped that this substantial investment will deliver major advances and support collaborative research services in the UK and internationally.

The MGU will continue studies using mice for understanding basic mammalian biology and learning more about human disease pathology, informing advances in treatment and prevention. The unit will also be developing a new research programme identifying mouse models with late on-set diseases associated with ageing. This is in line with the MRC's strategy for investing in research to support lifelong health and wellbeing.

The MLC will use this investment to provide technical support services and develop new programmes in transgenic mouse production, phenotyping, strain archiving and distribution - all essential to ensure that UK scientists are able to maintain their leading position in the field of mouse genetics and functional genomics.

On top of these developments, money is being used to support MRC involvement in the new International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium (IMPC): a world-wide collaboration of large mouse centres with the capacity and expertise to create mutations of every gene in the mouse genome, for which the UK is taking the scientific and industry liaison lead. Analysis of these mice will be undertaken with the aim to produce an encyclopaedia of mammalian gene function. All mice and data will be made freely available to academic and commercial researchers, enabling immediate access for validation and further phenotypic analysis.

Professor Sir John Savill added:

'This is a great opportunity for the MRC to get involved in an important worldwide effort that is both exciting and offers enormous potential to further our understanding of human disease and develop new approaches to treatment.'

Understanding Animal Research welcomes the announcement. In today's economic climate, it shows the importance of animal research for the future of bioscience and medicine.