By studying disorders in mice, biologists will have a better understanding of how
several diseases occur in Humans.
To understand the physiology of mice better, the National
Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) is setting up a world-class animal testing
(mouse) facility. NCBS, a part of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR),
will be setting up this facility, which will work in collaboration with the Institute
for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (In Stem). Vijay Raghavan,
Director of NCBS, said the proposed facility would not only study the physiology
of mice but also create a new understanding of the human biological system. “A simple
roundworm, fruit flies, zebra fish, rats and mice are examples of model organisms.
These organisms can be manipulated to show characteristics of developmental disorders.
By studying these disorders in mice, for example, we can understand, to a significant
extent, how human development takes place as mice and human beings are quite similar,”
Through the facility, biologists would potentially be working towards creating a
better understanding of, how several diseases work, be it lifestyle diseases such
as diabetes and heart diseases or problems such as muscular dystrophies, which are
inherited. The facility
10 crore was funded by the department of atomic energy (DAE) which supports TIFR.
While the construction of the lab is complete, in order to make the facility state-of-the-art,
NCBS is collaborating with the RIKEN Cell and Developmental Biology Institute in
Kobe and the McLaughlin Institute in Montana. Raghavan was quick to point out the
difference between animal testing laboratory and one meant for research. NCBS has
already conducted several mice experiments over the years. He also spoke about several
experiments that had led to important discoveries about diseases prevalent in human
beings. “Scientists at NCBS have done experiments in the understanding of how human
cervical cancer develops, using mouse models. Experiments on the immune system have
helped us understand how cells are programmed to survive or die,” he said. Drug
testing will not happen in the laboratory. “This is not a pharma testing site. It’s
meant for high-end research. Drug and toxicity tests are not done by us.”
Courtesy: DNA India