Psychiatric Disease Mouse Models

A fundamental problem of clinical diagnosis in psychiatry is the identification of disease as an objective and unique entity. As a result, major efforts have been made to try to identify specific hallmarks of pathogenesis or associated genes using objective measurements in order to gain a high level of diagnostic reliability. There is a large requirement for experimental models of psychopathological states which incorporate a combination of intrinsic and environmental factors. Charles River has partnered with the psychiatry consortium as drug discovery and development partners in an effort to validate new models and targets for psychiatric diseases. The psychiatric animal models used at Charles River encompass both intrinsic and environmental modeling for these studies:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder Mouse Model – Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are severe neurodevelopmental disorders that typically emerge in early childhood. Animal models of ASD include various genetically modified or inbred strains of mice expressing autism traits, as well as models with targeted mutations in candidate genes.
  • Schizophrenia Mouse Model – Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by both positive and negative symptoms that impair the mental function of the affected individual. Positive symptoms typically include paranoia, hallucinations and delusions, and are usually treatable. Negative symptoms include anti-sociality (lack of, or reduced, social interaction) and cognitive impairment and are largely untreatable with current drug therapy. As such, there is a clear unmet clinical need for medications that are active and effective against the negative symptoms of schizophrenia.
  • Depression Studies – Marked by sadness, reduced activity, difficulty concentrating, and feelings of dejection or hopelessness, depression can seriously impact quality of life. Due to the severity of these symptoms, and relatively few options available for treatment, new antidepressant therapies remain an area of critical need.
  • Anxiety Model – Anxiety is the general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension and worrying. These disorders affect how one feels and behaves, and they can manifest in real physical symptoms. Charles River conducts contract studies in mice using the marble burying test to assess the efficacy of novel anti-anxiety compounds, such as anxiolytics and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).