The New York Times reports: Megan Sykes, a medical researcher, has a mouse with a human immune system – her own. She calls it “Mini-Me.”
There are also mice containing a part of 9-year-old Michael Feeney – a cancerous tumor extracted from his lungs. Researchers have tested various drugs on the mice, hoping to find the treatment that would work best for Michael.
In what could be the ultimate in personalized medicine, animals bearing your disease, or part of your anatomy, can serve as your personal guinea pig, so to speak. Some researchers call them avatars, like the virtual characters in movies and online games.
“The mice allow you the opportunity to test drugs to find out which ones will be efficacious without exposing the patient to toxicity,” said Colin Collins, a professor at the University of British Columbia.
Experiments on mice have been done for decades, including implanting people’s tumors into the animals. But the techniques have improved in the last few years and interest is growing. The National Institutes of Health held a workshop on personalized animal models earlier this month. And while the models are mainly being used for research, companies are beginning to commercialize them for use in drug development and medical treatment as well.
Read the full report at the New York Times.