Recent research has significantly advanced our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease (AD) and motor neuron disease. Here we emphasize the use of genetically engineered mouse models that are instruments for understanding why AD is a neuronal disease, and for validating attractive therapeutic targets. In motor neuron diseases, Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase and survival motor neuron mouse models are useful in testing disease mechanisms and therapeutic strategies for amyothropic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and spinal motor athropy, respectively, but the mechanisms that account for selective motor neuron loss remain uncertain. We anticipate that, in the future, therapies based on understanding disease mechanisms will be identified and tested in mouse model system.
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