Monday, December 10, 2007
Meet the 'Lance Armstrong mouse'
Imagine if you could live longer, be super fit, bear children at age 85 and had the ability to not only be able to run marathons, but to have an unquenchable desire for extreme exercise.

Well, all this is possible - if you're a mouse.

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have created a new breed of mouse that some people are affectionately calling the "Lance Armstrong mouse."

Physiologically, these mice produce less lactic acid during exercise. That means their muscles can go longer and harder without major fatigue, a trait that was identified in Lance Armstrong by exercise physiology researchers at the University of Texas at Austin. But the wonders of the mighty mice don't stop there.

These mice can run for more than five hours straight, long after their normal rodent counterparts have given up and fallen off the treadmill. This endurance is due in part to their bodies' producing more mitochondria. For those of you who don't remember middle-school biology, mitochondria are a cell's powerhouse. The mice could run an incredible 5 km at 20 meters/minute. You can see the mice running alongside a normal mouse by clicking here http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/health/2007/12/10/vo.mighty.mice.cnn. The lab subjects also ate 60 percent more food than the average mouse, but weighed only half as much. These mice burned just their fat when they exercised, resulting in being leaner and eating more to recover. All in all, they not only lived longer than other mice, but they could reproduce at older ages. The female mice were able to have a baby when they were nearly 3 years old -- that's 85 in mouse years.

How did scientists make such a mighty mouse? They came in the form of transgenic mice -- a mouse that was genetically manipulated to research a specific gene or enzyme. Case Western University researchers engineered lab mice to have an overabundance of an enzyme called phosphenolpyruvate carboxykinase or PEPCK (pronounced pepsi-K) in their muscles. The enzyme can be found in the livers and kidneys of all animals including humans.

Manipulating lab mice is a common practice in science. "In general, mice are the preferred choice because of their size, breeding efficiency and short gestation time," according to Dr. Karen Wu, a physiology researcher at Columbia University. Furthermore, mice and humans are 99 percent genetically similar according to a 2002 mapping of the mouse genome in Nature magazine. In fact, the same researchers said that 90 percent of genes associated with disease are the same in humans and mice.

But hold on. Don't expect PEPCK to show up in pills, shots or supplements anytime soon.
"I wouldn't dream of putting these genes in humans!" warns Dr. Richard Hanson of Case Western. "The process just wouldn't be possible in humans." Regardless of human applications, the news wasn't all good for the supermice. They are very hyperactive, aggressive and their intelligence has yet to be measured.

What do you think of the mighty mouse or supermouse? Do you think we'll ever see such traits in humans?
We are already a caffeine induced, high speed application gerneration....How much faster do we really need to be, Time seemed to speeding up, and as far as internet speed ive seen some people say that 2 seconds isnt fast enough....Honest to blog i dont think a supermouse is necessary and could lead to endangerment of our species...

Kraig Rasool
Fort Washington Md
This reminds me of the movie Gattaca where created humans are upper class and humans created through procreation was inferior. Might not be so far off from that if we can create super mices.
As much as most humans fear their own mortality, there is a certain grace in old age and death. Our defiance of that stage would not only upset the natural rhthm of human life; it would also create an ecological imbalance as humans live longer and consume more.

That said, I volunteer my housemice for further testing. They already seem to possess some extraordinary tenacity worth researching.
I think it's incredibly interesting research, and it's applications for us as a species may be worth consideration. Humanity for eternity!
Might have some interesting application for prolonged human space flight and establishing colonies on other planets in and out of our solar system.
I think you guys watch way to much TV, you speak of this being applied to humans as effecting the natural balance of the world, or that its bad...cause its something new...this is a silly thought, the natural balance is survival of the fittest that’s it, in a nut shell..if you like it or not, I see this as an advancement and I would be the first to step up to the treatment IF it ever comes out. I would outlive you and I would ensure my genes were passed to the next generation..thats life.
Oh boy, we already live longer than humanity has in generations past, and we haven't had to manipulate our genes to do it. But here's the big issue, let's increase everyone's consumption by 60% and then see how many MORE people in the world are starving to death due to our greed/arrogance.

And once we live longer, and have kids later, that means that there's even MORE people put on the earth to have the chance to starve to death. Let's destroy our world completely for the following generations of superhumans. After all, who cares, they should be able to figure out how to live on Mars.
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