Accounting for human diversity

Traditionally, researchers have relied on genetically identical mouse strains to gain insight into the complex world of human diseases while reducing what is known as experimental noise. But in contrast to these mice, not two people are genetically alike. As a direct result many promising drug candidates fizzled in the face of human genetic diversity.

Dr. Klaus Ley successfully mirrored the breadth of genetic and immunological diversity found in the human population in the lab by using a panel of about 100 different inbred mouse strains instead of just one. The new approach successfully replicates natural human immune variation in the lab and allowed Dr. Ley and his team to identify a molecular fingerprint that successfully predicted individual people’s susceptibility to inflammatory disease as well as survival of patients with certain cancers.