Toronto Star - Male rodents used to study diseases that affect mainly women


A battle of the sexes is incubating in North American medical research labs over the role of the lowly rodent. More than 90 per cent of research in the lab is still being done using male rats and mice, even in the study of diseases such as pain and dementia, which disproportionately affect women, a University of California expert on stress and memory said Monday. And there are growing fears - particularly among young female researchers - that the love affair with male rodents may actually hamper efforts to tackle diseases, such as Alzheimer's, which affect women far more than men.

"The question - what about the females? - is looming over all of neuroscience and biomedical science right now," said Larry Cahill of the University of California, Irvine…

Cahill has found a supporter for his cause in researchers such as McGill University pain expert Jeffrey Mogil. "I'm amazed by it. It's more than stupid - it's borderline unethical," said Mogil in a telephone interview from Montreal.

"We researchers have a duty ... we're using public funds, the public is entrusting us to try to come up with treatments and cures for diseases that affect men and women."