Why Science Doesn’t Need Mice

A recent editorial called “Why Science Needs Female Mice” by the New York Times Editorial Review Board relies on a new study published in Nature Neuroscience by Robert Sorge and his colleagues titled “Different immune cells mediate mechanical pain hypersensitivity in male and female mice.”

The abstract for this essay reads: “A large and rapidly increasing body of evidence indicates that microglia-to-neuron signaling is essential for chronic pain hypersensitivity. Using multiple approaches, we found that microglia are not required for mechanical pain hypersensitivity in female mice; female mice achieved similar levels of pain hypersensitivity using adaptive immune cells, likely T lymphocytes. This sexual dimorphism suggests that male mice cannot be used as proxies for females in pain research.”

While I have some expertise in the matters raised by the Times editorial, my co-author on this essay, Dr. Hope Ferdowsian, has considerably more, thus, I’m pleased to write this piece with her. The Times editorial notes that the study by Dr. Sorge and his colleagues suggests that experiments involving male animals may not hold up in women. What the editorial and the journal article neglect to note is that numerous experiments on male and female non-human animals (animals) fail to reliably hold up in humans, and many prominent researchers have argued we need to develop non-animal models in order to learn more about serious diseases from which numerous humans suffer.

“To understand sepsis, you have to go to the patients”

Let’s look at some of the data. In the past several years, one story after another has revealed the failures in translating animal experiments to human health benefits. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses have shown that findings in animals are not reliably replicated in human cardiovascular, neurological, and infectious disease clinical research (please see <a target="_blank" href="http://animalexperiments.info/resources/Studies/Human-healthcare/Highly-cited-studies.-Hackam-et-al-2006./Translation-Hackam-et-al-2006-JAMA.pdf" —> Read More