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Animal Models to Study Infectious Pathogens

Until recently, several issues prevented the use of cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus) as an experimental model on a widespread level. They lacked inbreeding, they were not readily commercially available, and reagents specific to this species had yet to be developed. Additionally, cotton rats are notoriously hard models to work with. Although cotton rats are not normally aggressive, they dislike being handled, can move very rapidly, and jump well. Significant advances have now been made to alleviate these issues. A variety of immunological methods have been established for the cotton rat so that immunological responses after infection or vaccination can be evaluated. Also, a wide variety of chemokine and cytokine genes have been cloned and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and other antibody-based systems are readily available. Some strategies can overcome the challenges of working with cotton rats, and their necessity to vaccine development ultimately makes them more than worth the trouble.

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Carmen Sweeney PhD is the Scientific Director of in vivo/ex vivo testing services at Charles River’s site, Ballina, Ireland. Carmen has over 20 years’ experience in the industry, having held a number of positions at Charles River, from Study Director, Manager of Methods Development, to her current role. Carmen received her PhD in biological and biomedical sciences and toxicology MSc from the University of Ulster, UK.
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Carmen Sweeney PhD
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