Jeffrey Mogil’s students suspected there was something fishy going on with their experiments. They were injecting an irritant into the feet of mice to test their pain response, but the rodents didn’t seem to feel anything. “We thought there was something wrong with the injection,” says Mogil, a neuroscientist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. The real culprit was far more surprising: The mice that didn’t feel pain had been handled by male students. Mogil’s group discovered that this gender distinction alone was enough to throw off their whole experiment—and likely influences the work of other researchers as well. [more inside]
How do you build a mouse Utopia?
In 1972, John B. Calhoun
detailed the specifications of his Mortality-Inhibiting Environment for Mice: a practical utopia built in the laboratory. . . . To its members, the mouse civilization of Universe 25 must have seemed prosperous indeed. But its downfall was already certain—not just stagnation, but total and inevitable destruction.
Less than two weeks after a controversial paper came to light advocating the pre-natal treatment of some female fetuses with a hormone to make their behavior more stereotypically female (previously discussed here
) comes news of actual animal research on causing the opposite inclination. By knocking out the fucose mutarotase gene, scientists in South Korea have apparently created "Lesbian mice" who prefer other female mice and who resist the attempts of male mice to mate with them. Article abstract
, and coverage by The Telegraph
Somewhere on Earth, in a laboratory, a mouse is levitating
. Science is awesome.
Ebola is for wimps!
Some Australian scientists were trying to come up with a mouse contraceptive vaccine, for use in pest control. And they succeeded. Unfortunately, the virus they created works by killing mice before they can breed, and killing them very very well. Oh, and it's extremely vaccine-resistant: 100% death without vaccine, 50% with. And any kid with a Li'l Johnny Gene Engineering Kit could conceivably make a human version. Anyone got some smallpox virus laying around?