On Friday, February 26th Dr.s Tatiana Kazdoba, Prescott Leach, and Jacqueline Crawley presented on their work at the UC Davis MIND Institute. In Dr. Crawley’s lab, scientist’s use genetic mouse models of autism and neurodevelopmental disorders. Dr. Crawley opened with an explanation of the usefulness of these mouse models. She explained that though it doesn’t make sense to think of these mice as having autism in the same way humans have autism, they still show some of the characteristics of the disorder. These characteristics may include social deficits or repetitive behaviors. When a mouse model reliably shows one of these symptoms, scientists can attempt to reduce the symptom using pharmaceuticals. If the pharmaceutical is effective in the mouse, it may also be effective humans.
The three scientists discussed progress they have made on inter-related projects examining different genetic lines of mice. Mouse lines and pharmaceutical interventions are selected based on multiple criteria. They must show genetic relevance (the genes affected in the mice must also be affected in humans), symptom relevance, generalizabity (for example, working in both mice and rats), feasibility, and replicability. Further, the lab examines behavioral, EEG, and physiological measures.
The projects are already beginning to show results, but at differing levels of public report. I look forward to seeing more results and progress over time.