In Past Events, Research, Training

Animal Models of Autism: Less than Perfect, but Still Invaluable

July 23rd, 2020

On July 23rd, QART trainees and TACC student members had the opportunity to attend a virtual session on animal models of ASD given by Dr. Arkady Khoutorsky, Assistant Professor from McGill University and organized by QART trainees Shane Wiebe and Mehdi Hooshmandi. Besides the fundamentals of studying ASD pathophysiology and the different methods used for generating animal models of ASD, Dr. Khoutorsky discussed how these models have led to the discovery of new and pre-existing therapeutic treatments for ASD and/or Fragile X syndrome.


  • Learned different approaches to studying ASD pathophysiology, including post-mortem brain studies, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), and preclinical animal models
  • Went over the applications of iPSCs in research such as for modeling disease, discovering new drugs and creating personalized cellular therapies
  • Covered the criteria for the strength of animal models: construct validity, predicitive validity, and face validity
  • Learned about the 6 common animal models used in research
  • Differentiated between knock-out and knock-in mice models using Cre-recombinase/floxed gene method for deleting a gene that is expressed in specific anatomical region of their brain
  • Outlined the details of different behavioral assays used on ASD mice models such as the 3-chamber social interaction test, the grimace scale, marble burying test, open field test, etc.
  • Concluded the workshop with some recently novel research findings that the drug Metformin (which is usually prescribed for type II diabetes) has been found to produce moderate cognitive improvements in people with Fragile X syndrome.