Saturday, December 15, 2007

Mighty mice!

Much to the dismay of Peta activists, animal rights laws in most countries do not regulate the use of laboratory mice. Mice are the most commonly used mammalian model organism in labs, and since the advent of genetic research they have been subject to some remarkable genetic experiments. For instance, researchers in Cave Western Reserve University created genetically modified hyper-metabolic mice, which can run 6 kilometres for six hours straight without stopping. These "super-mice" eat 60% more than an average mouse, but are fitter, faster and live muce longer lives! Recently, Japanese researchers created a mouse that is completely unafraid of predators by disabling certain smell receptors that would normally cause the mouse to run away in fear. While obviously this is does not benefit the mouse in anyway, its human applications are worth considering. Scientists predict that this research may be used to help resolve anxiety disorders.

Another example of super-mice involves Myostatin, a naturally occurring protein that inhibits the growth of muscles. By inhibiting the Myostatin gene, the lack of any Myostatin protein allows muscle growth to continue unchecked. In mice growth dramatically increases, one report stated muscle mass increased by 60% in two weeks. The equivalent human gene coding for Myostatin was found in 2004 when a boy was born with a mutation preventing the Myostatin protein from forming. Myostatin gene-therapy has the potential to treat degenerative muscle disease but will also probably be abused by Barry Bonds.



Alex P said...

Awesome post man.