The trouble with lab mice


7 Responses to “The trouble with lab mice”

  1. sabik says:

    But mouse studies should not count as incontrovertible proof of anything.

    The scary bit is that this would apply to the null results, too.

    How many life-saving treatments for humans are discarded because they don’t help in mice?

  2. ashabot says:

    Labs that experiment on animals are gulags of  unimaginable suffering, hells on earth, a heartbreaking, silent holocaust.

    • prof_yaffle says:

      I collaborate a lot with the vet school at my university in terms of using animals as human models, but I’m part of a pediatrics research group – do I take samples from PICU/NICU instead? Genuinely interested in the alternatives. 

  3. efergus3 says:

    You’re right – we should experiment on the homeless instead.

  4. fletcher_katherine says:

    Yay Maggie — as always, good science coverage!  One thing I didn’t see was a discussion of the fact that even “standardised” mouse species (e.g. Black-6) are not all the same, as populations have diverged (evolved) by being bred for hundreds of generations in separate facilities.  A UK and a US mouse of the same strain are not actually the same.  This is important because studies need to be reproducible: people need to be able to re-run the experiment to check they get the same results.

    I work with a group that does “wet lab” cardiac research, and uses the data to create computer models.  One problem we’ve noticed is that, even when authors think they’re writing everything down, they’ve missed really important information — such as the strain of mouse (what is “wild type,” exactly?), or the tempearature or solution for the cells in the experiment.  This means that the resultant computer models are basically frankenstein creations bolted together with whatever information we can scrounge from various publications.  It’s becoming enough of a problem that we’ve just published a paper on Minimum Information Standards for our field.

    The paper is meant to be open-source and freely available, but we’re still waiting for the payment to go through (sigh) so it’s stuck behind a paywall for the next couple of weeks.  But once it’s available, you can see our example, where we took one of our own papers, and noted whether we’d included all the information in our new MICEE standard in that paper.  We hadn’t! (if you want to see the Minimum Information Standard paper now, please contact

  5. spoonage says:

    As soon as one of you rocket scientists come up with a better model for research, please let us scientists know. Model organisms are a huge part of biological research, and without them we’d be no where near where we are today. Careful where you point that thing.

    I’d also like to point out to the gulag comment, that there are several layers of checks you must go through for any sort of animal research. I’d encourage you to understand the status quo. These are not the days of “Unnecessary Fuss” where you have people slamming baboons wearing crash helmets into walls. I would say, if you believe in what you really believe in, put your money where your mouth is and join IACUC:

    These people are the real defenders of animal rights, as they are a very real force to be reckoned with in laboratories. I have seen entire labs been shut down, and then subsequently gone under at universities.  They are where the wheels hit the ground for animal research.

  6. Jenonymous says:

    Spoonage–thank you.  I hate discussions of animal testing that inevitably go to the New Godwin for the subject:  “Think of the micey-wiceys!!” and “Test on people/condemned criminals/volunteers” (yeah, because doing a double-blind for a rare form of brain cancer is SO much easier on humans, ethics aside, than using genetically-manipulated mice specially bred for that purpose). 

    Quick, PETA, in 25 words or less, explain tertiary genetically-influenced RNA path mechanisms and how they relate to certain kinds of cancer!  Then in another 25 tell me how you’re going to do Phase Zero testing without an animal (usually mouse) model.

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