Transgenic rats provide new models of human disease

July 30, 2009
Stephanie Sutton

Stephanie Sutton was an assistant editor at Pharmaceutical Technology Europe.

Transgenic rats, created using a novel application of zinc finger nuclease (ZFN) technology, could aid the development of animal models of human diseases.

Transgenic rats, created using a novel application of zinc finger nuclease (ZFN) technology, could aid the development of animal models of human diseases. The technology enables the mutation of specific genes, which can be passed down heritably, according to the results of the study "Knockout Rats via Embryo Microinjection of Zinc Finger Nucleases", published in Science.

"Until now, rat geneticists lacked a viable technique for "knocking out", or mutating, specific genes to understand their function," Howard Jacob, Director of the Human and molecular Genetics Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin (WI, USA), explained in a statement.

The world’s first targeted knockout rat (left) was created using CompoZr zinc finger nuclease technology to knock-out the green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene in the GFP rat (right).Image Courtesy of Sigma-Aldrich Coporation and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

The breakthrough was made by scientists at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Sangamo Biosciences (CA, USA), Sigma-Aldrich (MO, USA), Open Monoclonal Technology (CA, USA) and INSERM (France). It is believed that the rats will aid understanding of physiology, endocrinology, neurology, metabolism, parasitology, growth and development, and cancer.

"We have invested our time and resources to develop the CompoZr platform because we see enormous potential in a technology that can precisely manipulate the genome of living organisms," David Smoller, President of Sigma-Aldrich's Research Biotech business unit, which markets ZFN technology through its CompoZr line, said in the statement. "We are proud to be part of the public–private collaboration developing the proof-of-concept for this technique, which we believe will become the standard for the creation of genetically engineered research animals."

www.mcw.eduwww.sangamo.comwww.sigmaaldrich.com http://openmonoclonaltechnology.com/index.html www.inserm.fr