Cancer patients with their own mouse avatars? It sounds bizarre, but this is actually pretty incredible. Patients can have their own tumor cells grafted into nude mice to determine the best treatment for their particular cancer. For difficult cancer cases, this could give patients and doctors much-needed information.
These nude mice can grow human tumors in their bodies because they don’t have an immune system to reject the cancer cells. Researchers can then try several different treatments to determine the best course of action. For a human patient dealing with cancer that’s difficult to treat, doctors often need to take their best guess as to the most appropriate treatment. By using mouse avatars, the hope is that some of the guesswork is removed, and doctors can tailor their approaches based on results in personalized mouse studies.
This procedure is still experimental, and not without its challenges, but hopefully with time and promising results, mouse avatars will help more and more patients win their battles against cancer.
Recent research has found that the presence of male scents can stress out male mice. And this is pretty significant, as it’s important that research studies are able to be replicated. This will likely have an impact on behavioral studies going forward- and that’s a good thing!
It’s extremely important to minimize variables in research. Animals in research settings are often the best tools at a researcher’s disposal, due to this very reason. Unlike human subjects, research animals are able to be monitored extremely carefully in order to understand exactly which variables are significant. By understanding the effects of male scents on male mice, researchers have more information at their disposal as they attempt to minimize variables in their research studies.
By recognizing the fact that the gender of the researcher can have an impact on research outcomes, hopefully fewer animals will be needed to give statistically significant results. It’s also likely that researchers may now be able to understand why certain studies can be difficult to replicate. It’s commendable that researchers at McGill University in Montreal were able to provide this information to the research community. Read more about it here:
Lyme Disease is a tick-borne illness that affects over 300,000 people in the United States alone each year. Infected blacklegged ticks can transmit the disease to humans. Lyme Disease is no joke; untreated infections can damage the heart, joints, and nervous system. And although many people think that deer are the main cause of the spread of the disease (blacklegged ticks are commonly called deer ticks), the most common carrier of Lyme Disease is the white-footed mouse.
Currently, there are no human vaccines for Lyme Disease. So researchers are trying to tackle the problem in a different way- by vaccinating mice! They developed an oral vaccine, mixed it into an oatmeal pellet, and baited plots of land with these pellets. The theory is that ticks feeding on vaccinated mice would ingest the antibodies made in the mouse’s body, thus killing any bacteria carried by the ticks, and preventing them from transmitting the disease to humans. And it works- researchers saw a 76% decrease in infected ticks on the treated plots of land.
Right now, scientists are working on USDA approval for the vaccine pellets. If approved, hopefully this will make a big difference in reducing the number of cases of Lyme Disease in humans- and as an added bonus, it won’t hurt the animals or the environment!
Alzheimer’s Disease is devastating. I know this; I’ve seen the effects of Alzheimer’s in my own family. Currently, there is no cure for this disease that affects over 5 million Americans. And by 2050, that number could triple. The cost of this disease is staggering- and that doesn’t just include the estimated cost to the U.S. of $203 billion in 2013, or the projected $1.2 trillion that it will cost us by 2050. I’m talking about the cost of watching your loved ones slowly forget who you are, who they are, and everything they’ve spent their lives working to achieve. If you’ve been touched by this disease, you know what I mean. This is a disease that’s worth fighting. With everything we’ve got.
Animal rights activists argue that we can’t learn anything from animals. But that’s simply not true. By working with Alzheimer’s mouse models, researchers are learning how the disease starts, and they’re already working on ways to develop early treatments that could benefit humans. This type of research would be impossible to carry out in humans; by the time humans begin to show clinical signs of the disease, significant damage has already being done. We want hope; we want cures; we want a future; we want a miracle. That’s where the mice come in.
Adenomyosis is a gynecological disease that can cause infertility and chronic pelvic pain. While there are some medications that can be used to alleviate symptoms, the only definitive treatment for the disease is a hysterectomy. But now, researchers at Michigan State University have created a mouse model that can help researchers understand processes in the disease’s development. This is significant, because most women with the disease require some type of surgery, and a treatment that allows a woman to avoid a hysterectomy would be ideal.
Until now, there hasn’t been a reliable animal model for this disease, and it will be interesting to see how the development of this new mouse model can help researchers discover a cure for adenomyosis. For women suffering with infertility issues due to the disease, this could be life-changing!
According to the CDC, infertility affects approximately 11% of women. That’s over 1 in 10 women that will experience some degree of infertility! There are many causes, and while some women receive a diagnosis (like adenomyosis), others may not. We still have a lot to learn about infertility, but rest assured, researchers are working hard to figure it out.
In order for medical breakthroughs to take place, animal research is necessary. While there are many great examples of this, one example that is of particular interest to me is Alzheimer’s Disease. It has been confirmed that mouse models of Alzheimer’s Disease closely simulate the human disease and are therefore essential to the advancement of treatments and possible cures.
Why mice, you ask? Well, mice reproduce quickly and have short generation times, so it is much easier to study the effects of treatments and therapies if you only have to wait three months for a mouse to develop Alzheimer’s. In humans, once you begin to develop the disease, it is impossible to tell the exact cause. It could be due to genetics, diet, exercise (or lack thereof), a combination of all of these things, or none of these things. There is no way of looking back at an Alzheimer’s patient’s habits and lifestyle and use that information to draw conclusions on possible preventative therapies for future patients, because life has far too many variables.
By removing these variables and using genetically identical mice that are predisposed to developing Alzheimer’s, researchers can determine which drugs and therapies work and which ones don’t. I think that makes these mice pretty awesome.