BioMed21 researchers review animal models in Parkinson’s disease

Members of the BioMed21 Collaboration published a review on the progress and limitations of the multiple animal models available in Parkinson’s disease in the journal Drug Discovery Today. The authors identified advances that could be implemented to better understand pathological processes, improve disease outcome, and reduce dependence on animal models. Despite 200 years since the first description of Parkinson’s disease, the mechanisms behind initiation and progression of the characteristic neurodegenerative processes are not yet fully understood. Furthermore, no significant new drugs to treat Parkinson’s disease have been developed over the last 50 years, suggesting that decades of animal research have failed to create an accurate model of disease pathology. The authors propose to focus on human cells, tissues and subjects to address gaps in understanding the disease. Human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) studies can for example reveal the impact of genetic and environmental risk factors, according to the authors. Leveraging existing pathways-based information may lead to early treatment and/or prevention of the disease. The authors also suggest that advances in computer modelling can enable predicting drug safety and efficacy. The lessons learned from reducing animal use in Parkinson’s disease research could then serve as guideposts for wider biomedical research, the authors conclude. More info: