Talking Research in The Conversation – Talking Research

September 2, 2022

in a new article in The conversation, three members of the Speaking of Research committee write about how primate research can advance understanding of Alzheimer’s disease. The subject is important, affecting many people.

The authors write: “In 2022, we estimate 6.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, a disease that robs people of their memory, independence and personality, causing suffering for both patients and their families. This number could double by 2060. The United States has made considerable investments in research on Alzheimer’s disease, having allocated $3.5 billion in federal funding This year.”

Photo credit: S. Baker

Why animal models?

The article discusses the need for animal models to advance animal research, and in particular why the non-human primate model can fill gaps that the traditionally relied upon mouse model cannot. The authors also explain why non-animal research alternatives cannot replace live animals.

“A key aspect of understanding what goes wrong in Alzheimer’s disease is the relationship between the brain and behavior. Researchers rely heavily on animal models to conduct these types of studies because ethical and practical issues make them impossible to drive into people.

In recent years, researchers have developed alternative methods to study Alzheimer’s disease, such as computer models and cell cultures. While these options hold promise for advancing Alzheimer’s disease research, they do not replace the need for animal models due to significant limitations.

One is their inability to replicate the complexity of the human brain. The human brain has an estimate 86 billion neurons which perform very complex calculations. While computer models can simulate the operation of specific neural circuits, they are unable to fully capture these complex interactions and work best when used. together with animal models.

Similarly, cell cultures and brain organoids – miniature brains derived from human stem cells – are unable to imitate properly the aging process and all the interactions between the components of the human body.

Because of these limitations, researchers are turning to animal models that better reflect human biology and disease processes.

Interested in knowing more? See the full article on:

Source: The Conversation

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