Virtual rats in the works to aid disease research

While we're far from doing away with sacrificing living rodents in the name of science, researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee are working away at developing in silico critters for disease research. Computational biologist Daniel Beard calls this the "Virtual Physiological Rat" project, Newswise reports.

The virtual rats are expected to offer researchers insights into the mix of genetic and environmental risk factors of cardiovascular disease. Of course, data from live rat experiments will be used to build the virtual models of the rodents, and one of the purposes of this virtual rat effort is to better inform studies involving the real animals. However, the virtual rats might provide researchers with a more integrated view of the complex biology behind high blood pressure and other cardiovascular ailments than live rats provide.

"We are going after the synthesis, or integration, of many working components," Beard tells Newswise. "We are working toward the grand challenge of biomedical research: understanding the complex interplay between physiological, genetic and environmental factors."

- get more in the Newswise piece

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