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Review

The value of animal models in predicting genetic susceptibility to complex diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis

Emma Ahlqvist1, Malin Hultqvist1 and Rikard Holmdahl12*

Author Affiliations

1 Medical Inflammation Research, Lund University, C12 BMC, 221 84 Lund, Sweden

2 Medical Inflammation Research, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institutet, Scheeles väg 2, 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2009, 11:226  doi:10.1186/ar2600

Published: 19 May 2009

Abstract

For a long time, genetic studies of complex diseases were most successfully conducted in animal models. However, the field of genetics is now rapidly evolving, and human genetics has also started to produce strong candidate genes for complex diseases. This raises the question of how to continue gene-finding attempts in animals and how to use animal models to enhance our understanding of gene function. In this review we summarize the uses and advantages of animal studies in identification of disease susceptibility genes, focusing on rheumatoid arthritis. We are convinced that animal genetics will remain a valuable tool for the identification and investigation of pathways that lead to disease, well into the future.