Archive for August, 2009


We’re creating a Master Race of mice

August 5, 2009

sarah_outenSo this week Sarah Outen (left) became the first woman to row solo across the Indian Ocean.
She set off from the west coast of Australia in April and landed on the island of Mauritius on Monday, 3 Aug, after spending a total of 124 days at sea.
Which just goes to prove that Brits will do anything to save on travel expenses.
Sarah, a biologist from Rutland, UK, said it had been “an astonishing experience” and she had seen the elements “in all their states”.
“In the last days I’d have whales surfing past the boat and albatrosses flying overhead,” she told the BBC website.
It’s when you start seeing whales flying overhead that you know you’re in trouble, Sarah.

This week there was great news for epileptic mice – but not much joy for humans with the condition.
“Scientists halt epilepsy in mice,” was the BBC website headline on Monday.
Great. Now they’ll be able to drive trucks and operate heavy machinery.
Has epilepsy been a big problem for mice? Not that I am aware of. I don’t know a single mouse whose life has been ruined by epileptic seizures.
Meanwhile, rodents everywhere have also been celebrating (with cheese and wine parties, presumably) the discovery of a drug – aptly named rapamycin – which has been found to extend life in mice, according to a study published on July 8 in the journal Nature.
The research, conducted as part of the National Institute of Aging Interventions Testing Program, took place at three separate test sites and involved nearly 2,000 genetically similar mice.
Exactly how rapamycin works is “still an open question,” says Randy Strong, a pharmacology professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and one of three lead authors of the study.
And then comes the inevitable disclaimer: “Earlier human trials have shown, however, that rapamycin can have serious side effects”.
In other words the drug will kill you long before it extends your life.

I’m getting a bit tired of reading about medical “breakthroughs” in mice that never seem to translate into cures for people.
At this stage there must be a miracle cure available for every disease known to mousedom. Hardly a day goes by without news of some new medical advance that has been successfully tested on mice.
We’re breeding a master race of rodents – while we humans are still dying from the same old diseases that killed our distant ancestors.
Isn’t it about time the medical boffins came up with a few genuine cures for human diseases – such as cancer and coronary disease?
For all their “breakthroughs” with mice, they have yet to produce a single cure for any of the most common diseases that kill humans.
This is the 21st century. A cure for cancer is long overdue. Yes, I know it’s a complex and difficult disease, but you’d think that after more than a hundred years of intensive medical research – involving tens of thousands of researchers and costing countless millions of dollars – they’d have made a bit more progress towards finding a cure than they have.
In any event their failure to find cures for these common killer diseases might be a bit easier to accept if they didn’t keep reminding us in their smug and arrogant way of how clever they are.
At finding theoretical cures for diseases in mice.
The sad truth is that most of the medical research effort goes into developing (profitable) drugs to “treat” diseases, rather than finding (far less profitable) cures to eradicate them.