The MRC Harwell Institute is at the international forefront of the study of mammalian models of disease.
Most human diseases have a significant genetic component. Many variants in our DNA predispose us to disease, yet our knowledge of these changes in our DNA and how they cause disease is limited. We use animal models to study and understand the genes that underlie diseases, from diabetes, to dementia, to deafness. Although outwardly a mouse looks very different to a human, its development, physiology and biochemistry are remarkably similar. We, in fact, share around 95% of our genes with mice. Studying genes in mice can therefore reveal important insights into the function of genes in humans.
The study of genetics is advancing at a remarkable rate. The determination of the genome sequences of human and mouse was a major step forward for our understanding of human disease. This allied to extraordinary advances in genome engineering technology, such as gene editing, is enabling an unparalleled era of mammalian genetics, leading to breakthroughs in our understanding of the function of genes and their role in disease. It is these advances that will help us identify new therapeutic targets and develop novel therapies to treat disease.