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We can cure Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, glioblastoma in mice. Why not humans?

| | September 3, 2019
mice story
Image: Reuters
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Lab mice endure a lot for science, but there’s often one (temporary) compensation: near-miraculous recovery from diseases that kill people. Unfortunately, experimental drugs that have cured millions of mice with Alzheimer’s disease or schizophrenia or glioblastoma have cured zero people — reflecting the sad fact that, for many brain disorders, mice are pretty lousy models of how humans will respond to a drug.

Scientists have now discovered a key reason for that mouse-human disconnect, they reported on [August 21]: fundamental differences in the kinds of cells in each species’ cerebral cortex and, especially, in the activity of those cells’ key genes.

Mouse and human neurons that have been considered to be the same based on such standard classification schemes can have large (tenfold or greater) differences in the expression of genes for such key brain components as neurotransmitter receptors.

That makes neurons and circuits connecting brain regions, which were long thought to be essentially identical in mice and people, different in a fundamental way. And it could explain the abysmal record of drug development for neuropsychiatric diseases including schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, and autism.

Read full, original post: Scientists routinely cure brain disorders in mice but not us. A new study helps explain why

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