Goal 3: Advance Translational Research

Enhancing Translational Returns With Better Animal Models and the Basic Science Needed to Support Such Efforts

Can we improve on the preclinical development of therapies through more informed choices on new animal models by linking basic science at the R01 level with national resource centers?

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? Critical Challenge (CC)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC

The development of effective therapies for heart, lung, and blood require the appropriate animal models for testing. Mouse models have been the mainstay and for the most part very effective. But for those diseases where mice fall short, humans have become the testing ground. With the massive push for translation at NIH, clinical trials often lack proof of efficacy in animal models or are wrongly based on biology in rodents that does not apply to humans. These clinical efforts that don’t effectively translate are exhausting resources to maintain a robust RO1 pipeline on basic research. Recognizing that we must push for translation and also keep basic research funded at a high level, NIH and NHBLI needs to get more creative in taping the best animal models for the disease.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC

With new technologies rapidly expanding for transgenesis in embryos, picking the appropriate species for modeling a given disease is now becoming a reality. However, there are several barriers to growth in this area: 1) we often do not know organ physiology and stem cell biology well enough in non-rodent species, 2) the average researcher typically does not have the expertise to utilize non-rodent models in their research or to generate new genetic non-rodent models for study, 3) the costs of non-rodent disease models is high and must be strategically utilized. One potential solution is to maintain resource centers in particular key species that collaborate with basic scientists to both better understand non-rodent organ biology and work selectively to translate basic discovery into therapies. NHLBI recently had an RFA for this type of work that was discontinued. If a new RFA was designed that links funded research (and/or new research applications) through NHLBI to selected target mission diseases and the use of strategic resource centers with expertise in alternative non-rodent models, this might productively transition appropriate use of new models for the next generation of scientists. Such an RFA for example, could provide supplements to existing R01s for projects linked to resource centers and/or have specific R01 RFAs to enter into studies in new animal models or to create new models for a given purpose.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea John Engelhardt

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Idea No. 414