Introduction To Phenomics

The powerful and wide-ranging genetic tools available in the laboratory mouse make it the major experimental model for studying mammalian gene function in vivo, and modeling human disease traits. Development and utilization of appropriate tools for assessing clinical phenotypes in mice is a crucial aspect of relevant model comparison in the post genome era.1 The laboratory mouse is an excellent mammalian system for studying normal and disordered biological processes because of low cost and the technological ability to exploit genetic tools for investigation of mammalian gene function.2 Many robust models of human disease may therefore be developed, and these in turn will provide critical clues to understanding gene function. Phenomics can be simply defined as the study of the phenotypic or biophysiological characteristics of mutant mice, especially genetically engineered mice.3 An integrated, multidisciplinary approach is absolutely essential to fully exploit the power of mouse phenomics in molecular medicine. The establishment of an infrastructure for archiving and distributing the growing mutant mouse resource data will help assure the accessibility and utilization of newly created mutant mice lines. The objective of this chapter is to provide a brief summary of some of the pathobiological and physiological techniques currently being used in genetically engineered mice for the investigation of relevant human diseases and comparative mechanistic processes.

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