Sidra Medicine Research establishes animal behavior pipeline for precision medicine

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Doha, Qatar – A team of researchers from Sidra Medicine has created an animal behavior pipeline to better understand the effects of olfactory-controlled behaviors on human diseases such as autism, anorexia, and other appetite disorders. The pipeline is part of Sidra Medicine’s precision medicine program.

The research combined the quantification of animal behavior with artificial intelligence to create the most comprehensive study of the olfactory behavior of mice, examining how this odor-controlled behavior of animals relates to human olfactory perception.

“Additionally, despite its important role in modeling human disease, big data analytics approaches to behavior analysis have rarely been extended to preclinical animal models. We believe that this methodology developed at Sidra Medicine would help us to better understand how genetic mutations in humans can affect the entire organism and lead to diseases such as autism or appetite-related disorders, ”said Dr. Saraiva continues.

In collaboration with other US researchers from Arizona State University and the Monell Chemical Senses Center, researchers at Sidra Medicine compared the olfactory behavior of mice with human olfactory perception and found that both species share three basic properties. This included factors such as odor valence (ie attraction vs. repulsion) as the most important aspect of odor perception; that molecular properties of olfactory molecules can be used to predict odor perception in both mice and humans; and that odor concentration can have a major impact on odor-controlled behavior. The results were recently published in May 2021 in the renowned journal Current Biology.

Dr. Diogo Manoel, Staff Scientist of the Genetic Department at Sidra Medicine and lead author of the study, said, “A combination of analytical methods, including multivariate statistics and machine learning, allowed us to delve deeper into the behavioral data. These analyzes uncovered the most relevant features of the data set and provided information about the predictability of animal behavior based on the physicochemical properties of the molecular stimulus. We intend to include these tools as one of the functional genomics division’s phenotyping approaches here, as an integral part of our precision medicine endeavors, ”said Dr. Manoel continue.

Dr. Saraiva, who was also the lead author of the study, continued: “Our study has produced the most comprehensive atlas of olfactory behavior in mice to date, providing unique and novel insights into the relationship between olfactory behavior in mice and human olfactory perception. The experimental approach we developed for this study combines the measurement of animal behavior with the predictive power of artificial intelligence. The results of our research significantly improve our fundamental understanding of animal and human odor perception, but also serve as a proof of concept for future behavioral studies with preclinical animal models of human diseases at Sidra Medicine. Our goal here is to use artificial intelligence to reduce the time it takes to reuse drugs to treat neurological disorders, including autism, intellectual disability, and ataxia. “

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About cider medicine

Sidra Medicine provides specialized health care to women, children and adolescents from Qatar and around the world. Founded by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, Sidra Medicine encompasses the best in medical education, innovative biomedical and clinical research and discovery, and exceptional patient and family care.

Sidra Medicine offers comprehensive specialist medical services for children and adolescents as well as obstetric and gynecological care for women. Some of its unique specialty services for children include cardiology, neurology, urology and plastics and craniofacial reconstruction. It is also currently the only specialist center in the country treating and caring for pregnant women with fetal complications.

The state-of-the-art health organization is a testament to Qatar’s pioneering spirit and sustained commitment to human and social development.

To access the services of Sidra Medicine and to learn more about our contribution to global health care, education and research, please visit

© Press release 2021