From humanized mice to human disease: guiding extrapolation from model to target

Biology and Philosophy 28 (3):439-455 (2013)
Abstract
Extrapolation from a well-understood base population to a less-understood target population can fail if the base and target populations are not sufficiently similar. Differences between laboratory mice and humans, for example, can hinder extrapolation in medical research. Mice that carry a partial or complete human physiological system, known as humanized mice, are supposed to make extrapolation more reliable by simulating a variety of human diseases. But what justifies our belief that these mice are similar enough to their human counterparts to simulate human disease? I argue that, unless three requirements are met in the process of humanizing mice, very little does. My requirements are not meant to provide necessary and sufficient conditions that guarantee a particular outcome. Instead, they serve as a heuristic for guiding scientific judgments involving extrapolation. In developing each requirement, I engage with philosophical issues concerning the nature of model-based science and the mechanistic approach (and its limits) to making generalizations in the life sciences
Keywords Extrapolation  Genetic engineering  Humanized mice  Mechanism  Models
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References found in this work BETA
William Bechtel (2005). Explanation: A Mechanist Alternative. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biol and Biomed Sci 36 (2):421--441.

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Citations of this work BETA
Tudor M. Baetu (2014). Models and the Mosaic of Scientific Knowledge. The Case of Immunology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 45:49-56.
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