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Research Uses for Rats

Rats have been used for decades to learn more about the causes, the biology, and the treatment of cancer using a variety of methods.  One of the more common applications of rats in cancer research is to screen compounds for toxic effects and resulting cancers in large-scale studies.  A number of these studies are underway, and have been providing insights for years on the affects of chemicals and environmental assaults on the animals.

Aspects of basic biology and physiology of both normal functions and malfunctions in rats yield important clues that translate to human biology.  One of the earliest realizations of the genetic nature of cancer was provided by the Eker rat model, and subsequent work with that model has continued to provide knowledge about the mechanisms of cancer.

Experimental therapeutics are frequently tested in rats to evaluate efficacy, safety or toxicity.  Because of their larger size, rats are also the rodent of choice for interventions and studies that involve surgical treatments.  Improved drug delivery strategies, and advances in imaging strategies that will help clinicians to better understand the images obtained from patients’ tumor assessments, are also demonstrating the utility of rats as a model to benefit human health.

Prevention research that could offer guidance on ways to postpone or eliminate cancer would have tremendous value for public health.  Research into the genetics of susceptibility and risk factors, paired with prevention strategies, can be performed in rat model systems and yields new knowledge every day.

To learn more about the uses of these animals in these pursuits, explore the navigation links at the left. These examples do not endorse any specific approaches, compounds, or conclusions from the research.  They are provided as samples of the types of research that have been undertaken using a given model system.