Rat cancer models
There has been a long history of using rats to study cancer. Although the technology for creating genetically modified mice matured before the same techniques were available for rats, increasingly the same strategies are being used to manipulate the rat genome for cancer research. In addition, methods developed specifically by the rat community are also generating excellent models.
Genetic modifications using retrotransposon mutagenesis technology is in wide use, and the transposon-mediated Sleeping Beauty strategy is also being employed. As rat embryonic stem cell technology matures, manipulations to parallel the range of possibilities that have been available for mice will increasingly yield exciting and useful rat models.
Transplants of cells or tissues also provide a means of understanding tumor biology. Early use of these types of models in rat was pursued more than a century ago. Syngenic transplants of rat tumors in rats, xenogenic transplants of human tumors into rodents, and other types of cross-species investigations are valuable strategies. There are both benefits and drawbacks to these techniques, and the techniques and methodologies continue to be refined.
Many strains of inbred rats are also available for the study of cancer biology. Some strains have been established that may characteristically develop cancers in certain tissues or developmental stages, others are used as a defined background for exposure to carcinogenic agents.
Many existing models would provide a suitable foundation to study the onset of cancer, aspects of tumor biology, or therapeutic interventions. To find these useful models, explore the section about Acquiring Models. If the research directions demand development of new models of this nature, examine the links at the left to consider various strategies and tools.