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Humanised models of cancer in molecular medicine: the experimental control of disanalogy.

Abstract : This paper explores the epistemology of extrapolation from model organisms to humans in molecular medicine. We take into account two common views on the issue, the homology view and the disanalogy view. In response to both interpretations, we argue that the foundational basis of extrapolations cannot simply be provided by homology and that relevant disanalogies can, thanks to the techniques of molecular biology, be experimentally controlled and exploited to allow useful and reliable extrapolations. The case of "humanised mice" in the context of cancer stem cell research provides evidence of how animal models can be construed to approximate bona fide causal analogue models of human diseases. To supplement this view we show how the epistemology of model organisms needs to take into account the engineering side of molecular medicine. Model organisms are often manipulated to create analogies or remove disanalogies with the target system. We maintain that highlighting this feature is fundamental to explain what warrants extrapolation in the search for the molecular causes of disease.
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Contributor : Alessandro Blasimme Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Saturday, March 23, 2013 - 8:45:04 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, December 8, 2021 - 9:22:03 AM


  • HAL Id : inserm-00803910, version 1
  • PUBMED : 22662512



Paolo Maugeri, Alessandro Blasimme. Humanised models of cancer in molecular medicine: the experimental control of disanalogy.. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, Springer Verlag, 2011, 33 (4), pp.603-21. ⟨inserm-00803910⟩



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