Scientists in the United States have developed a laboratory mouse that could be a useful research tool for analysing long-term and degenerative diseases . It is hoped the study, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigatio, will help identify methods to prevent early cell destructio, as previous approaches have been unsuccessful due to the limitations of models for early stages of cell loss .
A number of common degenerative diseases are known to start with a gradual loss of specific cell types, before progressing to symptoms. In type 1 diabetes, for instance, hyperglycaemia can develop when there is a loss of around 80 per cent of the beta cells in the pancreas . Also, for Parkinsons disease, motor dysfunction commonly starts when neurons in a part of the brain decrease by between 70 and 80 per cent.
The researchers focused on inner ear hair cells, beta cells in the pancreas, and epidermal cells, revealing that whereas the beta cells and skin cells exhibited some regeneration in response to cellular loss, the inner ear hair cells were could not regeneration and therefore hair cell death caused partial deafness . It is claimed that the new mouse will help their efforts to replace inner ear cells that have been lost in deafness.
Albert Edge, study leader and principal investigator at the Eaton-Peabody Laboratory, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, pointed out “The mouse provides a way to study degenerative diseases and a model organism in which to develop therapies for those diseases.”

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