Engineered mice act as hepatitis C model
Rodents may eventually replace chimpanzees in vaccine research.
Researchers have created the first strain of mouse that is completely vulnerable to hepatitis C. The advance, reported today in Nature1, promises to aid efforts to develop a vaccine against the virus, which causes liver disease and cancer.
Chimpanzees have been the primary animal model for studying hepatitis C infection over the last several decades. But in the past few years scientists have begun phasing out chimp experiments, a process accelerated by the US government’s decision to retire most of its research chimps. That has created a need for alternative models to test potential drugs and vaccines.
Enter the mouse, which is naturally immune to hepatitis C. To transform the rodent into a model organism for studying infections with the virus, researchers genetically altered the animals to hamper their natural immune response. The team also engineered the animals to produce proteins found on the outside of human liver cells
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