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Genetically modified organisms are widely used in studies of development and genetic diseases, and also in studies of complex diseases like cancer and diabetes.
Non-mammalian model organisms
Most important physiological mechanisms are conserved in evolution, and therefore it is possible to use genetically tractable model organisms such as the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) and zebrafish (Danio rerio) to study genetic diseases, and also complex diseases like cancer, cardiovascular diseases or diabetes. These non-mammalian research models have several benefits, such as their short developmental time and scale for genetic analysis. Moreover, several molecular genetic techniques, including RNA interference (RNAi) for Drosophila and morpholino injection technique for zebrafish, are readily available.
Mammalian model organisms
Genetically modified (GM) mice have become the most important model organisms to understand the molecular basis of health and disease in man and to serve as suitable animal models for human disease. They thus have an important role in the development of new therapeutic approaches to human diseases. Work with GM mice requires high level of expertise, and specific ethical and legistlative issues have to be followed.
Core facilities with experienced personnel provide high quality service in generation, analysis, and archiving of GM mice. Large international projects to systemically produce mutations in all genes in the mouse genome will facilitate work with GM mice. Local infrastructure is essential for providing services in customized mutagenesis and expertise in all aspects of mouse related issues, such as generation and archiving of mutant mouse lines, as well as in training.
GM core facilities:
Highly specialized personnel and modern facilities are also required in systematic phenotyping of GM mice. Currently, services are provided by the Neurophenotyping Center (NCP) in Helsinki and Kuopio, Turku Center for Disease Modeling, and Biocenter Oulu.
Finnish Centre for Laboratory Animal Pathology (FCLAP) will provide expertise in mouse pathology, and the nationwide Training Program in Disease Model Pathology, organized by TCDM together with The Palmenia Center for Continuing Education, started in 2009.
More information about GM mouse work in Finland: www.FinGMice.org
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