Supply of ‘Ready-to-Test’ Mice Being Made Available to Alzheimer’s Researchers

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by Magdalena Kegel |

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Taconic Biosciences is improving its services to Alzheimer’s disease researchers — creating a ready-to-use stock of an important mouse model of the disease. Earlier procedures forced researchers to wait for months to receive mice ready for experiments, potentially slowing research efforts.

As human brains are difficult to study, animal models are often used in Alzheimer’s research. Among them, so-called transgenic mice— engineered to carry specific gene mutations — play a key part.

The mice, called APPSWE–Model 1349, produce large amounts of the amyloid precursor protein (APP), which give rise to amyloid-beta. APPSWE is short for what researchers call the Swedish Mutation, and the mutated gene is a known factor in families with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The model in itself is not new; Taconic has long offered it. But studying a disease linked to aging has its specific restrictions, because young mice do not show abnormalities. When researchers order the mice, they then have to wait for months until the mice became old enough to be relevant —  up to 42 weeks of age. Taconic says it will now have aged animals in stock.

“The addition of aged APPSWE animals demonstrates Taconic’s commitment to help researchers reduce discovery timelines. These reductions save both time and money, ultimately making it easier to progress towards life-changing therapeutics,” Dr. Michael Seiler, Taconic Biosciences’ portfolio director for genetically engineered models, said in a press release.

The APPSWE–Model 1349 mice show similar brain changes as humans with Alzheimer’s disease. The specific type of amyloid-beta they accumulate is thought by researchers to be linked to the disease.

The model is a common choice for researchers studying the dementia, and is often used to explore how amyloid accumulation affects other brain and cell processes. Although many researchers use mice that are already aged, Taconics will continue to also stock young mice. Using young animals allows researchers, among other things, to track brain abnormalities over time.

The use of mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease has other limitations. Positive results, when testing new drugs in mice, have so far not translated to human patients.

Researchers are, however, working to develop more accurate mouse models to overcome these issues.