New mouse service for KI researchers
A new service has opened up in the Wallenberg laboratory: called Karolinska Institutet Mouse Models (KIMM), it has been set up for researchers conducting research on mice that have been genetically modified to develop certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, cancer or depression.
The new service offers scientists an opportunity to buy haematological, physiological and pathological health checks of the animals, which can also be examined behaviourally. All such checks are made on order from the researchers and are conducted at certain ages and using methods that accord with international standards. This means that the animals can be compared with an international database, making it easier for new links between genes and diseases to be discovered.
“Genes operate globally throughout the body,” says Brun Ulfhake, operations manager at Comparative Medicine and initiator of the KIMM concept. “Studying how a specific gene affects a specific function requires a very narrow focus. If we monitor the animal’s health through a wider-angled lens, we can discover new diseases and disease correlations, and understand the gene under study better.”
KIMM also operates an “open access” service whereby scientists can conduct research on the mice themselves with their own or rented equipment, and offers bacteria-free mice for research purposes.
Mice are the most widely used mammal for research. According to Professor Ulfhake this is mainly because the mouse genome is the most thoroughly mapped, with 5,000 genes identified of the estimated 23,000 total.
“As we continue to do research on mice, we help to map the genome of a mammal and learn more about the part played by individual genes in the context of the entire genome,” says Professor Ulfhake. “When this has been done, the mouse genome will form a reference library for other mammals, including humans. We have roughly the same number of genes.”
Text: Annika Lund
Photo: Ulf Sirborn