The major autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), multiple sclerosis, (MS) and type I diabetes (T1D) as well as related inflammatory disorders such as asthma, psoriasis, and atherosclerosis are complex, and it has been difficult to understand their fundamental genetic and environmental causes. With proper animal models genetic and environmental factors can be better controlled and also manipulated. This enables genetic approaches that lead to an insight not possible to achieve with direct human studies only. The possibility of combining the genetic knowledge with direct animal studies will enhance the understanding of these diseases and shorten the time needed to develop new therapies with higher efficiency and limited side-effects. We will discuss these possibilities, mainly using examples from recent studies of models for RA.
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