Blue Food Coloring Un-Paralyzes Rats

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64 Responses to “Blue Food Coloring Un-Paralyzes Rats”

  1. Stefan Jones says:

    I’ve seen this photo several times in connection to this story and I’m not sure what it depicts. Is that a paralyzed rat waiting for his blue magic shots to kick in? An un-paralyzed rat enjoying a good belly-flop?

    * * *

    So, is there an obscure catalog from which you can buy rat head rests?

  2. Anonymous says:

    That really has to be one of the craziest things I’ve read.

    It reminds me of a SF story I read once a long time ago in which an algae had been developed that would provide people with sustenance through photosynthesis, but it had to be grown under people’s skin and it turned them green. What was that story? It always stuck with me…

  3. Anonymous says:

    For poster #3: There was a green man from the future in Gene Wolfe’s book “Shadow of the Torturer” (or perhaps it was the sequel, Claw of the Conciliator). The whole story is set way way in the future, so maybe he was actually from the past to the people in the story, but his people had colonized and forested the moon, and he was green with chloroplasts as a sustenance mechanism. One of a vast number of cool concepts in that series!

  4. Anonymous says:

    If it works on mice, does this mean that on human trials there will also be blu-ish side effects? 0_0 Note that only the non-fur part appears blue, which leads me to believe that the entire skin under it changed color.

  5. Takuan says:

    I thought nanoparticles had an affinity for neural tissue, a potential delivery vehicle?

  6. Brainspore says:

    @ Anonymous #59:

    The ONLY way that animals other than humans intentionally harm other animals is by way of their need for sustenance

    That’s a remarkably ignorant statement. My roommate had a cat that regularly killed other creatures for the sheer fun of it- birds, mice, opossums, etc. Never once did it actually eat them after it was done playing.

    Caging another animal for life, breaking its spine with a weight, and dissecting it – all for an entirely negligible chance of advancing medical research for humans – is but another cowardly act of solipsist hubris and waste.

    Doing this to an individual animal may have a negligible chance of advancing medical research, but animal testing as a whole has unquestionably led to all manner of treatments for humans and other creatures alike.

    Now you could argue that, say, the insulin treatments that have saved the lives of thousands of humans weren’t worth the thousands of animals who died to make the treatment possible. But that’s a value judgment, and most humans would probably disagree with you.

  7. Phikus says:

    Mousie got the blues…

  8. jackalopemonger says:

    The “head rest” is actually a small stack of plastic weighing trays.

    And the compound is not blue food dye, but a derivative used for staining protein gels, called Brilliant Blue G – also known as a Coomassie dye: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coomassie

  9. Marcel says:

    Of course, in order to establish and prove the actual reduction of spinal cord trauma and inflamation, we first have to give our test subjects spinal cord trauma and inflamation.

    Again, and again.

    And to make sure, we have to see if green food coloring has the same effect. And red. And yellow.

    Yes, I know, I am repeating myself.

  10. Dave Faris says:

    Aw, nothing like a picture of an intentionally paralyzed blue mouse to brighten your day.

  11. Anonymous says:

    There must be a more humane way to conduct research.

  12. mn_camera says:

    And all those of you condemning medical research for in vivo testing are flatly refusing to avail yourselves of any benefits derived therefrom, aren’t you? And your immediate families as well?

    No vaccinations, no drug therapies, none of that?

    Really?

    Proof?

    Anybody?

    Bueller?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Keep in mind the sobering statistic from the FDA, though, that over 90% of drugs tested in animals go on to fail in human tests, never reaching the market.

    I agree with Dave Faris. Other than the fantasy that this would actually benefit people, there’s not much uplifting about the story if you work in and understand the statistics of animal research as extrapolated to humans. I just see an intentionally paralyzed blue mouse.

  14. Bemopolis says:

    This is, of course, why Smurf Village never had to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  15. GauchoAmigo says:

    From the article: “Six weeks after injecting the blue dye, the research team killed and dissected the treated rat to inspect its spinal cord (pictured)—though not entirely without regrets. “It was so cute, that rat,” study co-author Nedergaard said.

    The team was surprised to find that the spinal cord was still blue—the rat’s skin and eyes had returned to normal after one week.”

    What other compounds are accumulating in our spinal cords? Maybe it doesn’t matter.

  16. aeon says:

    @36, it may be a bit grim but it’s not appalling. Having had to care for all too many trauma patients with spinal cord injuries I’d cheerfully sacrifice an awful lot of mice not to have to tell another person that they’ll never, ever walk again. That’s truly appalling.

    Sadly though it only looks like a potential rescue therapy that would have to be given shortly after the injury in order to reduce secondary damage from swelling in the post injury phase. It would likely have no effect on a completely transected spinal cord or if given too late. Great if it helps but no magic bullet.

  17. Anonymous says:

    BRAINSPORE:
    My roommate had a cat that regularly killed other creatures for the sheer fun of it- birds, mice, opossums, etc. Never once did it actually eat them after it was done playing.

    Yes, cats do this. Orcas do this. Alas, your statement is remarkably and fallaciously anthropomorphic. You actually have no idea what our understanding of ‘fun’ might mean for a cat. They may not eat what they kill, but their predatory instinct to kill arose from their need for sustenance. And if they weren’t subsidized by their owners, you can be sure they’d be eating many more of their kills. This is a qualitatively different case from that of gratuitous cruelty in medical ‘research’, as by all evidence in display here.

    Doing this to an individual animal may have a negligible chance of advancing medical research, but animal testing as a whole has unquestionably led to all manner of treatments for humans and other creatures alike.

    Actually, doing this to an ENTIRE COHORT of rats likely has a negligible chance of furthering research – and that’s the point. Central nervous system trauma in other species has been alleviated, to some degree, by various ‘treatments’; yet – to my knowledge – NONE has been successfully translated to the human system.

    So, what I question is the anthropocentric worldview exhibited by researchers who passively dismiss the unlikelihood of actual benefit from their cruelty b/c they’ve entirely divorced their cost-benefit analysis from the question of the rights of other animals to self-eventuate.

    Your equivocation of all animal testing in an apparent effort to justify every instance of it is both naive and dangerous. This worldview may seem benign, but it’s ultimately at the heart of the global ecocrisis we’re enmeshed in now.

    Now you could argue that, say, the insulin treatments that have saved the lives of thousands of humans weren’t worth the thousands of animals who died to make the treatment possible. But that’s a value judgment, and most humans would probably disagree with you.

    Well, it’s certainly possible they would, if I had made that argument, but in any case I certainly wouldn’t trust in you as their representative, mr. third-grade leather steampunk fetish mask.

  18. tofoomeister says:

    They’re blue because the hyper-intelligent, pan-dimensional beings that the mice represent are (checks mood ring guide) relaxed.

    If I had to venture a guess, they’re vacationing on Ursa Minor Beta.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Who is in charge of actually paralyzing the rats? I’m envisioning some mean red-headed kid with a stained shirt and a stick he broke off a tree?
    Whack those science rats little man, whack away!

  20. dagfooyo says:

    How exactly did they first stumble across this? “Hey, let’s try giving different coloring agents to paralyzed rats!”

  21. Brainspore says:

    I bet this experiment started as a third grader’s science fair project.

  22. Boba Fett Diop says:

    The Spice must flow!

  23. blithering says:

    I was curious about that too Dagfooyo. You’d think the food coloring had already been tested pretty thoroughly before being sent to market. So were there questions about the safety of Brilliant Blue G that prompted more testing (and accidentally discovering this)?

  24. robcat2075 says:

    They dropped a weight on the rat’s back to paralyze it.

  25. doggo says:

    Poor little rodent looks so sad…

  26. thatguyruste says:

    #9, kudos for the Hitchhiker reference!!

  27. Anonymous says:

    The rat in that phot seems to be saying “What did I ever do to you that would cause you to paralyze me???”.

  28. Paranormal says:

    I really want a blue pet mouse…

  29. Anonymous says:

    Myself being a complete C-3 quadriplegic, I say bring on the blue! Check me out in the Blue Man Group, I’ll be the one with a limp.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Dye has to be biologically quite ‘interesting’ to stain cells without causing damage which would make the further analysis of the cell structure meaningless. Complex chemicals which can cross the cell wall, bind to specific proteins.

    The history of drug development includes many by-products of the dye industry.

    Perkin was looking for an anti-malarial when he found mauve, the first aniline dye.

    I believe many of the sulpha drugs also stem from the dye industry. Prontosil certainly. And Mecaprine dye was a WWII antimalarial which many soldiers took, turning themselves yellow in the process.

    So yes, it looks bizarre to you or me, but there is a rational basis for why medical research investigates dyes this way.

  31. Roy Trumbull says:

    I second the Smurf comment above.
    And all the time we thought children were nuts falling for the doughnuts with colored sprinkles. Kids Rule!

  32. Anonymous says:

    I really want a paralyzed pet blue mouse…

  33. Fred H says:

    I’d like to imagine scientists were testing lab rat reflexes with a tiny rodent-sized dragster. Said rat veers off-course, and crashes into the next lab where the deliciousness of blue Gatorade is being tested. After prying out the now wet and blue rat from the wreckage with tiny Jaws of Life, the little guy miraculously recovers from his spinal injury. Then someone walks by with a plate of cheese, and the rat’s eyes bug out.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Having spent years as a researcher in neuroscience labs studying neurodegeneration and regeneration (including spinal cord transection in rats) — I can tell you not to hold your breath waiting for this to make it to humans. Many, many drugs and procedures have been shown to reduce traumatic CNS injury in animal models, yet none has held up on humans.

  35. Brainspore says:

    Fred, what kind of Fink would do such a zany thing?

  36. noen says:

    The Blue Mouse Group will be suing you for damages.

  37. Antinous / Moderator says:

    The Spice must flow!

    He has the toes of the Ibad.

  38. Volker says:

    The injection did not reverse anything. Shortly after the injury (!) the mice were injected. Normally, ATP accumulates after the injury and kills off neurons. The blue coloring prevented this increase, and less neurons died. Hence the improved outcome.

  39. cosanostradamus says:

    .
    Researchers here in Hawaii genetically altered mice to glow green in the dark. Your tax dollars at work. Guess the cats appreciate it. Do cats pay taxes?

    @ #40 posted by Fred H, July 31, 2009 4:56 PM
    ‘ What’s a Baby Power? ‘

    Used to be a punt or two.

    A baby Powers is a small whiskey, a single shot of Power’s Irish Whiskey, very good and very popular in Éire, last time I was there. When Jonathan Rhys Meyers was only a gleam in his mother’s eye.
    .

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Researchers here in Hawaii genetically altered mice to glow green in the dark. Your tax dollars at work.

      Of the possible uses of my tax dollars, that seems at least harmless.

  40. IamInnocent says:

    “And Mecaprine dye was a WWII antimalarial which many soldiers took, turning themselves yellow in the process.”

    Sorry for veering OT once more but isn’t God fuckingly ironic?

  41. Nadreck says:

    Ah, Gatorade; is there nothing you can’t do?

  42. Anonymous says:

    @3 anon
    The Green Leopard Plague by Walter Jon Williams

  43. The Glorious DBox says:

    The NG article does not provide any link to peer reviewed scientific publication by the author describing the beneficial effects of the dye in reducing inflammation after spinal cord injury. Any anti-inflammatory agent would do the same job – and indeed, the wonderful IBRUPROFEN which we all use, has been earmarked for spinal cord injury treatment.

    If the dye produces sustained and statistically significant differences in locomotor function (improvements) long-term following spinal cord injury then I’ll be convinced.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Two by two, hands of blue.

  45. Takuan says:

    it’s good social pressure has made animal experimenters more careful. Much remains to be done and the level of awareness must be constantly maintained so people don’t forget and new generations learn. But I really do think solely focusing on them is error.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Response to Anonymous #50:

    Actually, your ‘nutshell’ doesn’t represent life on this planet.
    The ONLY way that animals other than humans intentionally harm other animals is by way of their need for sustenance (i.e., trophic relationships that help compose the natural functioning of ecosystems). Caging another animal for life, breaking its spine with a weight, and dissecting it – all for an entirely negligible chance of advancing medical research for humans – is but another cowardly act of solipsist hubris and waste.

  47. nutbastard says:

    meh, what’s the point?

    i’ve had these, and they dont taste any different from the normal ones – the only benefit i see is it’s much easier getting my little cousin to finally clear his plate.

  48. Mitch says:

    Oh, it’s so kind of them to find a way to help paralyzed rats.

  49. piminnowcheez says:

    Mice ≠ rats. These are rats. The difference between the two animals as analogs to humans in biological research is significant.

  50. noen says:

    “There must be a more humane way to conduct research.”

    Not really, Nature isn’t green.

  51. Anonymous says:

    @21, @29: Well, since Coomassie binds proteins fairly nonespecifically, I wouldn’t have thought to test it… but perhaps that’s exactly why they did? To soak up all those broken cell proteins? Does Coomassie bind ATP?

  52. Anonymous says:

    To be clear…”sustenance” … or protection of self/progeny or ‘right’ to mate.

  53. Brainspore says:

    Anonymous #43:

    If you know a way to test potentially dangerous new treatments for paralysis that doesn’t involve living creatures I’m sure the medical researchers would be delighted to hear it.

    We sacrifice millions of animals every day for less worthy causes than potential paralysis cures. Leather steampunk fetish masks, for example.

  54. Anonymous says:

    If you don’t like harming animals that’s cool – don’t do it. But many animals are going to continue harming other animals in a myriad of ways and that, in a nutshell, is life on this planet.

  55. Anonymous says:

    I thought this was appealing at first, until I read the obvious. They damaged the rat’s spinal cord, and then killed him after the blue dye treatment to learn what had happened. Now it’s just appalling.

  56. daev says:

    Not gonna bash the innate cruelties of research, it’s a necessary evil IMO.

    That said, The first thing I thought of when I saw the pic was how hopelessly sad that poor thing looked.

  57. Anonymous says:

    Ok, I hate “Animal Experimentation”!

    True, that’s not “Scientific”, and I don’t consider the “Benefits to humanity”, I just hate legalized animal torture described as “Science”.

    Said it, don’t regret it, don’t intend to debate it.

  58. Justin Ried says:

    Smurfy!

  59. cosanostradamus says:

    .
    I’ve been using blue M&Ms to counteract paralysis for years. I carry them with me whenever I go out drinking. I had a MedAlert bracelet made up saying “Feed Me Blue M&Ms If I’m Found Paralyzed,” with a stash of them in a blue M&M amulet around my neck, in case you were wondering how I got them in my mouth after the fact.

    I’ll tell you, I’ve met some pretty hot chicks this way! You’d be amazed what some women will do to a guy once he’s paralyzed! They don’t always feed me the M&Ms immediately. Heh-heh. So, how do I know what they’re doing? Oh, I have sensation. I just can’t move after a fortune in Guinness and Baby Powers. And my drinking-helmet-cam captures it all on a memory card for later perusal. Here, look.

    PS Thanks for the tip. One of my ladies must have been a lab rat. I’ll be suing now for patent infringement. She blinded me with SCIENCE! (You know her. She wears a lab coat on TV. But at the Princeton Plains Motel 6, heh-heh… Perfume, dude! 13 is now my lucky number!)

    *The above account is entirely fictional. Except for the Guinness part. As far as I can recall.*
    .

  60. Anonymous says:

    So… I don’t really care about the story… I just really really want a blue rat. How awesome would that be?!

  61. IamInnocent says:

    Even in his worse moments, Christopher Reeves looked happier than this rat.

  62. Fred H says:

    What’s a Baby Power?

  63. wastrel says:

    It is a cute blue mouse.

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