By JR on Thursday, November 20, 2014
Of mice and men
It has long been known that results from mouse research often do not generalize to humans so it is good to see an explanation for that below.
Food freaks often use the results of mouse experiments to claim that following their latest food fad will lengthen your life. I have always argued that mice are particularly inappropriate in that application as mouse lifespans differ so markedly from human lifespans. Making generalizations about lifespan from a short-lived species to a long-lived species is particularly absurd.
The finding below of large intrinsic differences between mouse and man should strengthen that criticism. Food and health claims based on mouse research should be routinely disregarded. The only occasion when mouse research could be of interest is when mouse research, human epidemiology and theory all point to the same conclusion
Mice and men are genetically far further apart than was previously thought, calling into question the important role the rodents play in medical research.
A new study has found that while mice and humans share many protein-coding genes, the way their genes are regulated is often very different.
US scientists were surprised to find that gene activity diverged wildly between the two species in some key biological pathways.
The finding may help explain why more than 90% of new medicines that pass animal tests then fail in human trials.
Laboratory mice have been a pillar of medical research for more than a century, being used by scientists investigating everything from social behaviour to obesity.
Only half of human and mouse DNA match compared with 96% of human and chimpanzee DNA.
Co-author Dr Michael Beer, from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said: "Most of the differences between mice and humans come from regulation of gene activity, not from genes themselves. Because mice are an important model for human biology, we have to understand these differences to better interpret our results."
(Yes. My allusion in the heading to John Steinbeck and Robert Burns was deliberate)