Jun
02
2007

Your New President: Mickey Mouse

Walt Disney’s dream has finally become nightmare-reality.
I don’t think that statement needs any clarification, but for those of you who are unwilling to accept what’s in front of your very eyes, let me lay things on the line: Scientists from Texas (of course!) have genetically engineered super mice.
Our Only Defence: Keep these close at hand. They may be our only hope. (photo credit to billselak)
Our Only Defence: Keep these close at hand. They may be our only hope. (photo credit to billselak)

What are coming to be known as the “six million dollar mice” (and I can not confirm that price tag, only that they are indeed as cute as the original six million dollar creation, if significantly smaller than Lee Majors) were created by the genetic deletion of the enzyme “Cdk5” from their mousy brains. This causes “an increase in sensitivity to their surroundings” which “seems to have made [the mice] smarter.”

The smart-mice have become more adept at learning to navigate through mazes, and working out new routes as the mazes change. They also are able to quickly learn that “being in certain boxes involves a mild shock.” These are things that I can’t even do, and I have a degree in English.

As horrifying as the prospect of a genius mouse may be, the Texan scientists are quick to point out aspects of their research that will likely be beneficial to human health and psychology.

The technique used to suppress the Cdk5 enzyme works at the genetic level, and is referred to as “conditional knockout.” It allows scientists to eliminate the gene only in the brain, and only once the subject is an adult, as opposed to the older and less sophisticated “traditional knockout,” which eliminates the gene entirely.

This sort of therapy might be used to help people suffering from conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder “learn that a once-threatening situation no longer poses a danger.” Also, Cdk5 seems to be associated with drug addiction and Alzheimer’s disease, and the researchers are hopeful that the study might lead to further treatments for these and other conditions.

So, we may not be doomed to some kind of Mickey Mouse/Bladerunner-esque future after all, but, still, I’ll be keeping my eyes and puny human brain trained on this one.

An article about the smart mice

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I really hope this works out, especially for alzheimer's!!!

posted on Thu, 06/04/2009 - 8:38am

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