Alzheimer's Rat Created for Human Research

MONTREAL, April 5 (UPI) — A Canadian-led international team of scientists says it has genetically manipulated a rat to create an ideal model for studying Alzheimer’s disease in humans.

McGill University Professor Claudio Cuello, Professor Leena Alhonen of Kuopio University in Finland and colleagues said they genetically manipulated rats to be able to emulate the disease.

Alzheimer’s is a brain condition that produces a progressive decline of memory and other brain functions.

The scientists said although research mice have been developed in the past, rats are more intelligent and their behavior is rich and predictable. That, researchers said, will allow them, for the first time, to be able to detect and study the evolution of learning and memory deficits.

The scientists said their achievement will allow the study of a suspected “latent phase” of Alzheimer’s disease.

The disease is caused by the accumulation of molecules known as peptides. The accumulation has been repeated in lab mice, but the human condition develops through different stages and the rats will enable that brain progression to be mimicked for the first time.

The study that included McGill researchers Fabio Canneva, Adriana Ducatenzeiler, Wanda Leon and Moshe Szyf appears in the April edition of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

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