Women and men, female and male animals and cells are biologically different, and acknowledgement of this fact is critical to advancing medicine. However, incorporating concepts of sex-specific analysis in basic research is largely neglected, introducing bias into translational findings, clinical concepts and drug development. Research funding agencies recently approached these issues but implementation of policy changes in the scientific community is still limited, probably due to deficits in concepts, knowledge and proper methodology. This expert review is based on the EUGenMed project (www.eugenmed.eu) developing a roadmap for implementing sex and gender in biomedical and health research. For sake of clarity and conciseness, examples are mainly taken from the cardiovascular field that may serve as a paradigm for others, since a significant amount of knowledge how sex and oestrogen determine the manifestation of many cardiovascular diseases (CVD) has been accumulated. As main concepts for implementation of sex in basic research, the study of primary cell and animals of both sexes, the study of the influence of genetic vs. hormonal factors and the analysis of sex chromosomes and sex specific statistics in genome wide association studies (GWAS) are discussed. The review also discusses methodological issues, and analyses strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in implementing sex-sensitive aspects into basic research.
Keywords: Animal models; Basic research; Cardiac cell models; Chromosomes; Hormones; Sex.
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