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Animal models, such as mice and rats, are indispensable tools in biomedical research. It plays a crucial part in the development of medical, veterinary and scientific breakthroughs. They were used since the early days of scientific discovery and are still contributing greatly until today. However, the topic of animal research can be highly-charged and differs in different views of individuals. Even so, we cannot deny the fact that animal-based researches has been part of every medical discovery for more than hundreds of years. Through this, there is a rapid technological advances and animal studies remains a need for scientific researches today and even in future.
The most commonly used laboratory animal models are rats and mice. According to the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR), 95% of all laboratory animals are mice and rats. Researchers and scientists prefer rodents due to its convenience since they are small, easily housed and maintained, and they also adapt well to new surroundings. They reproduce quickly and have a short life span of two to three years (Melina, 2010), thus enable researchers to have several generations of offspring’s during a reasonable period of time (Johnson, 2012). And also, rodents are relatively inexpensive compared to other animal models and can be bought in large quantities from commercial producers that breed rodents specifically for a certain use in research. Most mice and rats used in a clinical trial is of the same strain or breed, so that other than sex differences, they are somewhat almost identical genetically. Another reason is that the rodents’ genetic, biological and behavior characteristics closely resembles those of humans. Jenny Haliski, a representative for the National Institute of Health (HIH) Office of the Laboratory Animal Welfare, once said that “rats and mice are mammals that share many processes with humans and are appropriate for use to answer many research questions.”
Majority of the commonly used mice in laboratories are albino. This is due to a common mutation in tyrosinase gene. In which tyrosinase is one of the key enzymes in mammalian melanin synthesis (Ramsden & Riley, 2014). The prevalence of albinism in the laboratory rodents is because many of the earliest established strains were albino, and also in early days, it is an easy selection. ICR strain, an albino, is a mouse model of Swiss origin and descended from the original two male and seven female albino non-inbred mice (Research Models and Services, n.d.). This outbred strain was named after the Institute of Cancer Research in the USA. The mice strain has a docile nature, high productivity, rapid growth rate and low incidence of spontaneous tumor.
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