The New York Times today published an important story that summarizes research on the validity of using a mouse model for trauma, sepsis, and infection.
The original paper by Seok et al. was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.
The bottom line is that mice are poor stand ins for humans in studies of the immune system, trauma, and burns. This is remarkable, because billions of dollars of grant funding is devoted to mouse studies each year, with the assumption that the results will have relevance to human diseases. The Seok et al. study upends those assumptions and will certainly have a large ripple effect throughout biomedical research.
For instance, I am attending a conference now – the Keystone Symposium on the Gut Microbiota – where the large majority of studies is reporting work that was performed on laboratory rodents. Is that work relevant? Maybe not. We shall have to wait and see.