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The rat is a key model for basic and preclinical studies of physiology, pharmacology, toxicology and neuroscience, underlining its importance in studies of human disease. There are many reasons for this - the close evolutionary and genomic relationship to humans, the sophistication and sociability of the animal, the ease of physiological and behavioural measurements, and the availability of extensive biological data. Here, DMM presents Reviews, Research, Resources, Interviews and other articles, including commissioned content from a Special Issue launched in 2016: Spotlight on Rat: Translational Impact, which was guest edited by Tim Aitman and Aron Geurts. This Special Collection highlights that rat research is driven by a forward-looking community, dedicated to increasing our understanding of basic biology and human disease.
Drosophila melanogaster has been a popular model organism since the early 20th century when Thomas H. Morgan first used the organism in the study of heredity. The experimental tractability of fruit flies and their similarity to humans have placed the model at the forefront of research into human development and disease. It is estimated that almost 75% of human disease-causing genes have a homolog in flies, so there is an ever-growing number of useful Drosophila disease models available for the study of genes and pathways involved in a wide range of diseases. Here, we feature Reviews, Research, Resources, Model for Life interviews and other articles, including specially commissioned content from a Special Collection launched in an issue in 2016: Spotlight on Drosophila: Translational Impact, which was guest edited by Norbert Perrimon and Nancy Bonini.
Model systems, including laboratory animals, microorganisms, and cell- and tissue-based systems, are central to the discovery and development of new and better drugs for the treatment of human disease. DMM is committed to supporting and inspiring scientists in this research area to further promote collaboration between academia and industry in translational science. This collection, launched with a special issue of the journal guest edited by Matthew D. Breyer (Eli Lilly and Company) and A. Thomas Look (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School), highlights the contribution of model systems to drug discovery and optimisation across multiple disease areas. You will find excellent reviews and research articles newly or recently published in DMM on the use of a variety of model systems to test or develop new drugs. You will also find editorials and interviews from scientists who have contributed to translating research discoveries into patient therapies.
In recent years, the translational potential of stem cell research has begun to be realised, with advances in stem cell therapy and the establishment of promising disease models based on patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Stem cell systems that faithfully recapitulate human disease phenotypes provide unique resources for drug screening and for the study of disease mechanisms. Further research in this area will help take stem cells from the bench to the bedside in the treatment of human disease.
Over the past few years, DMM and its sister journal Development have met and talked with several leaders of the stem cell field. In this collection of interviews, you will find out how they got where they are today, how they view their major achievements, and what questions still excite them.
The prevalence of neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s, Huntington's and Alzheimer’s disease is rising, yet effective treatments for these debilitating diseases are lacking. Research in this area has provided insights into disease pathophysiology, including the key role of protein aggregation and mitochondrial dysfunction, and revealed links between the different members of this diverse group of disorders. In particular, animal models have proven to be excellent tools for studying neurodegenerative processes, providing incentive to develop new and improved models that will facilitate drug discovery in this area.
Protein misfolding is a feature of many neurodegenerative diseases. Progress has been made in unravelling the complexity of protein folding and misfolding using model systems, and in 2014, DMM presented a special review series in which researchers at the cutting-edge of the field discussed important advances and provided perspectives on the future. The series was introduced by Jeffrey L. Brodsky, University of Pittsburgh.
The zebrafish is a powerful research tool for investigating vertebrate developmental biology and disease pathology. As this model organism is also ideal for large-scale drug screening, it is becoming an increasingly popular part of research programmes that aim to improve the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of human disease. This collection, which includes Research, Resources, Reviews and Model for Life interviews, illustrates the translational impact of zebrafish research across a broad range of disease areas. The collection includes articles from our 2014 Special Issue 'Spotlight on Zebrafish: Translational Impact', which was guest edited by Liz Patton, James Amatruda and Lalita Ramakrishnan.
Metabolic disorders, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, have become epidemic in the Western world. Although it is clear that genetics, environmental cues and societal factors can all influence the initiation and progression of metabolic disorders, the contribution of and interplay between each of these factors, and the underlying molecular mechanisms involved in pathology, still remain incompletely understood. New research in this area promises to uncover therapeutic targets that could be developed into new drugs. This collection also includes articles from our Special Issue, 'The Obese Species'.
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death globally; it is predicted that annual cancer cases will rise to 22 million within the next two decades. The complexity of cancer has prompted scientists worldwide to employ animal and cell-based models to investigate the mechanisms underlying the disease. Recent advancements in cancer models and the increasing sophistication of high-throughput systems and pharmacogenomics tools now enable researchers to better model and target this multi-aetiology disease. The challenge is to use these discoveries to advance cancer prevention and diagnosis, and to accelerate translation into potential therapeutics to stop disease progression and prolong patient lives.
The mouse is an exceptional model organism in biomedical research. Its unique potential for experimental manipulation, and the similarities between the human and mouse genomes have enabled researchers to dissect the genetics of many human diseases. The mouse is also a prominent model for the discovery and preclinical testing of new drugs. In this collection, we showcase some of the DMM articles that have discussed techniques, policies, and issues relating to standardisation and reproducibility in mouse-based research, or provided tools of broad utility for the mouse research community. Find studies that have used mice to provide insight into specific diseases in our other collections and issues.