Is aging the problem to the woes of animal experimentation and lack of clinical translation?


There has been a failure to translate ides from animals into human benefit. EAEers either do not care about this, which is one central problem, or sometimes people scratch their heads and try and come up with reasons for this failure. In this study it is suggested that aging is not accomodated in the thought process. This is totally accepted and indeed an aged mouse for example does not handle an insult like a young mouse. This may be part of the problem. But a crap idea is a crap idea, no matter how old an animal is!

Indeed, I don’t think age is the major fundemental issue for the lack of translation of animal studies. In my opinion a more simplistic explanation is that there is a load of rubbish animal studies out there that have no relevance to the human condition. Many of these studies are underaken by the big labs and published in good journals. As a consequence pople follow in these footsteps. However, the work is not going to translate to another lab, let alone humans. This is the fundemental problem!

We could try do a review on this, but it will be given such a hard time, because people will defend their position that it is not worth the effort. Importantly people who should care, will simply ignore it. I am sorry to say that I have become a grumpy old mouse I have become “Statler”. I know a few “Waldorfs” and we find it frustrating. However, it provides me with teaching material on how to “Read a paper”.

Until we stop trying to shoe-horn all animal studies into simplisitic mechanistic sound bites that use animal experiments in a way and in a context that has very little relevance to the approach used in humans, we will continue to have such disappointments. Age is part of the problem, but to do work in aged animals has many issues and cost issues are one of them. If you have to pay £1 or more a day to keep a mouse and you need to keep hundreds/thousands of mice, you can quickly see how the costs build up.

It is part of my job to help you to look at the data and see instantly that the effects being shown are very, very weak. If you can get this, your hopes will not be dashed as much. You will be frustrated yes…but not deluded. Is this beeing glass half-empty

ProfG introduced rose-tinted-o-meter as a way of viewing MS research, sadly I think we also need a blinker-o-meter for viewing animal-based research. This is one of the reasons that I do not post on all animal studies, but if the story hits the media, you need to be able to understand the reality.


The need to incorporate aged animals into the preclinical modeling of neurological conditions.Sun M, McDonald SJ, Brady RD, Collins-Praino L, Yamakawa GR, Monif M, O’Brien TJ, Cloud G, Sobey CG, Mychasiuk R, Loane DJ, Shultz SR. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2019 Dec 23. pii: S0149-7634(19)30820-6. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.12.027. [Epub ahead of print]

Neurological conditions such as traumatic brain injury, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease are serious clinical problems that affect millions of people worldwide. The majority of clinical trials for these common conditions have failed, and there is a critical need to understand why treatments in preclinical animal models do not translate to patients. Many patients with these conditions are middle-aged or older, however, the majority of preclinical studies have used only young-adult animals. Considering that aging involves biological changes that are relevant to the pathobiology of neurological diseases, the lack of aged subjects in preclinical research could contribute to translational failures. This paper details how aging affects biological processes involved in neurological conditions, and reviews aging research in the context of traumatic brain injury, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. We conclude that aging is an important, but often overlooked, factor that influences biology and outcomes in neurological conditions, and provide suggestions to improve our understanding and treatment of these diseases in aged patients.

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  • “… it provides me with teaching material on how to “Read a paper””

    The more time that can be spent on this, the better. Undergraduates and even postgrads often think that because something is published and in a journal that it must be “good”/”the truth”.
    A more critical generation of graduates interested in really getting to the truth of things, not just getting published at any cost, would surely lead to better research in the long run.

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