Mol Aspects Med. 2022 Nov 18:101153. doi: 10.1016/j.mam.2022.101153. Online ahead of print.
Precision medicine strives for highly individualized treatments for disease under the notion that each individual’s unique genetic makeup and environmental exposures imprints upon them not only a disposition to illness, but also an optimal therapeutic approach. In the realm of rare disorders, genetic predisposition is often the predominant mechanism driving disease presentation. For such, mostly, monogenic disorders, a causal gene to phenotype association is likely. As a result, it becomes important to query the patient’s genome for the presence of pathogenic variations that are likely to cause the disease. Determining whether a variant is pathogenic or not is critical to these analyses and can be challenging, as many disease-causing variants are novel and, ergo, have no available functional data to help categorize them. This problem is exacerbated by the need for rapid evaluation of pathogenicity, since many genetic diseases present in young children who will experience increased morbidity and mortality without rapid diagnosis and therapeutics. Here, we discuss the utility of animal models, with a focus mainly on C. elegans, as a contrast to tissue culture and in silico approaches, with emphasis on how these systems are used in determining pathogenicity of variants with uncertain significance and then used to screen for novel therapeutics.