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Department of Biological and Medical Sciences
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
One of the major challenges currently facing healthcare providers is an ageing population that is spending more time in ill-health. Many ageing individuals have multiple and complex needs which affect the ability to treat them effectively, which also has a significant impact on their own independence and quality of life. There are many aspects of testing interventions to improve health in old age in pre-clinical models; from breeding strategies to measurements of outcomes. Here we provide a brief overview of the major considerations to take into account in such studies and the limitations or challenges we face in these studies.
A great majority of genes present in the human genome are also present in the mouse, thus making it an attractive mammalian model organism to study gene function and dysfunction. Over the past few decades, the ability to manipulate the mouse genome has been developed in a variety of ways. A complementary methodology to create mutations in the mouse is to use chemical mutagenesis. N‐ethyl‐N‐Nitrosourea (ENU) is the mutagen of choice for creating random point mutations model organisms. Advances in sequencing technologies have resulted in a rapid identification of the causative mutation. ENU mutagenesis is a powerful hypothesis‐generating approach to create new mouse models through both forward and reverse genetics approaches. Furthermore, the addition of challenges can identify mutations affecting specific pathways, and specific mutant lines or strains can be used to identify modifiers.
An increased lifespan comes with an associated increase in disease incidence, and is the major risk factor for age-related diseases. To face this societal challenge search for new treatments has intensified requiring good preclinical models, whose complexity and accuracy is increasing. However, the influence of ageing is often overlooked. Furthermore, phenotypic assessment of ageing models is in need of standardisation to enable the accurate evaluation of pre-clinical intervention studies in line with clinical translation.