Well,file this information under the "I Had No Idea" category: Until now,medical studies involving lab mice have generally not used equal numbers of male and female test subjects.But that's about to change.
We all see the reports about how X medicine (or what have you) seemed to impact Y animal subjects.But it seems that in 1,200 neuroscience papers from top journals—published in the 2011 and 2012 time period—only 42 percent reported the sex of the animals used.And when sex was reported,females were included about24 percent of the time.
Why?According to The New York Times,many researchers decided against using female animals because their reproductive cycles (and hormone fluctuations) might interfere with the results of various experiments.Which is interesting,because even when researchers study the kinds of illnesses and diseases that seem to affect more women than men (such as depression,anxiety,multiple sclerosis,and thyroid disease),researchers have generally relied onmale test subjects.
But—like humans—female and male animals' bodies are very different.According Janine Clayton,director of the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health (viaVox): "Looking for these differences between males and females is like a blind spot in research....I don't think people are doing this on purpose.They just didn't think about it."
Because of the lack of female lab subjects—or,at least,in part—studies have shown that human women may experience more severe side effects from new treatments than men do.That means that many studies' findings may notnecessarilyapply to women too.As a result,theNational Institutes of Healthhas strongly suggested that all medical theories must also be tested with female lab animals and in female tissues and cells.
So,beginning in October 2014,scientists seeking grants in medical research must demonstrate how they plan to balance the sex of the animals and cells studied (with exception to certain kinds of "rigorously defined" studies).
It's truly fascinating,don't you think?What are your thoughts?