The National Institutes of Health has awarded $800,000 to UC Davis and the University of Missouri to acquire, store and distribute genetically modified mice and make them available to researchers.
"Knockout" mice, in which specific genes have been disrupted, are valuable tools for studying human diseases such as cancer, heart disease and obesity, as well as growth, development and behavior. The NIH has launched a five-year initiative to collect strains of knockout mice that represent all 20,000 genes in the mouse genome.
NIH-funded scientists who develop such mice are required to share them with others for noncommercial research. But that can create a lot of work for a lab with a popular mouse. So the NIH, through the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), established the Mutant Mouse Regional Resource Centers, a network of labs that acts as a "lending library" for genetically modified mice.
Researchers can meet NIH rules by submitting their mice to the MMRRC network and request mice created by other labs.
The Mouse Biology Program at UC Davis and the University of Missouri, in collaboration with Harlan Sprague Dawley Inc., run two major repositories in the network. The UC Davis facility currently contains 13,000 strains of laboratory mice -- more than any other facility in the U.S., including commercial suppliers, said Kent Lloyd, director of the program and associate dean of research at the School of Veterinary Medicine.
Most of the animals are stored as frozen embryonic stem cells, eggs or sperm.
The network is supported by a base grant from the NCRR. The additional funds announced by NIH will go to acquire, maintain and distribute about 350 of the most popular, scientifically valuable mouse lines from a list drawn up by the NIH and researchers.