Universiteit Leiden

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Drug research

In the theme Drug research we generally work with rodents.


Rodents, such as mice, are frequently used as laboratory animals. These small mammals are easy to keep and they have a rapid reproduction rate. 

In drug research, we use advanced laboratory animal models that act as models for the disease that we want to understand and cure. We often use what are known as humanised mouse models for this kind of research. By genetically altering these animals, we can study the process of diseases such as cancer, atherosclerosis or neurological complications. The findings from studies using these mouse models can be used by researchers to further develop new drugs for use in humans.

Fundamental research using these genetically altered mouse models allows us to gain a better understanding of the  biological processes at a cellular level that are at the basis of diseases. This kind of animal testing can help us identify what are known as ‘drug targets’: starting points for the development of new medicines.

These mouse models are also used for the final stage in developmental drug research. In this stage, candidate drugs are tested on laboratory animals so that subsequent testing in humans is as safe as possible. 


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