Knockout mouse facts for kids
Knockout mice are important animal models for studying the role of genes which have been sequenced but whose functions are not yet known. By causing a specific gene to be inactive in the mouse, and observing any differences from normal behaviour or condition, researchers can infer its probable function.
Mice are currently the most closely related laboratory animal species to humans for which the knockout technique can easily be applied. They are widely used in knockout experiments, especially those genetic questions which relate to human physiology.
Examples of research in which knockout mice have been useful include studying and modeling different kinds of cancer, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, substance abuse, anxiety, aging and Parkinson's disease. Knockout mice also offer a biological and scientific context in which drugs and other therapies can be developed and tested.
Gene knockout in rats is much harder and has only been possible since 2003.
A detailed explanation of how knockout (KO) mice are produced is at the website of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2007.
Aspects of the technology for generating knockout mice, and the mice themselves have been patented in many countries by private companies.
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