Sidra Medicine research establishes animal behaviour pipeline for precision medicine

A team of researchers from Sidra Medicine created an animal behavior pipeline to better understand the effects of olfactory behaviors on human diseases such as autism, anorexia, and appetite-related disorders.

The pipeline is part of Sidra Medicine’s precision medicine program.
The research combined quantifying animal behavior with artificial intelligence to create the most comprehensive study of mouse olfactory behavior and how these animal odor-controlled behaviors relate to human olfactory perception, according to a press release.
Dr. Luis R. Saraiva, Associate Level Researcher in the Human Genetics Department at Sidra Medicine, said, “Our goal was to develop a high-throughput behavioral quantification platform to better understand how animals react to environmental odors. This would then open the way to see if the molecular properties of these odorants can be used to predict animal behavior, as the measurement of animal behavior is often used in preclinical animal models. “
“Also, 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 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 (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 mice and humans; and that odor concentration can have a major impact on odor-controlled behavior. The results were published in May in the renowned journal “Current Biology”.
Dr. Diogo Manoel, a research fellow in the Genetics 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 dig deeper into 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 effort, ”said Dr. Manoel continue.
Dr. Saraiva, who was also the study’s lead author, added, “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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