Mouse With a Human Brain or Wicked Fast Running

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

i-5dd9c303a5013aa05b64a21bc9fc0418-brain.jpg

One of my favorite sites, Technovelgy: Where Science Meets Fiction, entertained in 2005 with Mouse With Human Brain May Live. (If you're not accustomed to seeing nude mice with xenografts, be cautioned when you open this link).

Excerpted from the article:

Now, Stanford University has given famed researcher Irving Weissman permission to create a mouse-human hybrid. The intent is to inject human brain cells into the brains of developing mice to see what happens. The National Academy of Sciences will unveil guidelines on chimera and stem cell research this spring.

Professor Henry T. Greely, director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences and leader of the committee that considered the proposal, told the San Jose Mercury News, "We concluded that if we see any signs of human brain structures . . . or if the mouse shows human-like behaviors, like improved memory or problem-solving, it's time to stop."

...or if the mouse tries to take over the world. No word in 2007 if this occurred.

For a collection of "Are you pondering what I'm pondering" quotes, click here. Among my favorites:

The Brain: Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?
Pinky: Uh, I think so, Brain, but burlap chafes me so.

The Brain: Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?
Pinky: I think so, Brain, but this time, you put the trousers on the chimp.

More recently, another breed of transgenics have been produced in the form of mice with overexpressed phosphoenolypyruvate carboxykinase. Also from Technovelgy - Mighty Mice Now With PEPCK-Cmus!

The murine transgenics utilize lactate more efficiently, something they might have in common with Lance Armstrong who under intense training has low lactate levels.

The technical reason for their amazing physical feats? The over-expression of the gene for the enzyme phosphoenolypyruvate carboxykinases (PEPCK-C). The "mighty mice" are descended from founder lines that had an additional gene added. It is a chimeric gene; a copy of the cDNA for PEPCK-C was linked to the skeletal actin gene promoter, containing the 3'-end of the bovine growth hormone gene. The skeletal actin gene promoter directs expression of PEPCK-C exclusively to skeletal muscle. Various lines of PEPCK-Cmus mice expressed PEPCK-C at different levels, but one very active line of PEPCK-Cmus mice had levels of PEPCK-C activity of 9 units/gram skeletal muscle, compared to only 0.08 units/gram in the muscles of control animals.

Technovelgy notes the appropriate extrapolation to engineered Homo sapiens, notably the shaggy Ricardo Montalban as Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.

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Why exactly would they kill it? In fact whats the point of doing this if its not to see if such a creature would have crude human-like thinking patterns? Its not like we would have to worry about creating a super race of smart-mice, after all they couldn't pass on their brains to their offspring.

Oh great, now I am stuck with the theme song of Pinky and the Brain...

Pinky and the Brain, they're Pinky and the Brain. Yes, Pinky and the Brain, one is a genius, the other's insane. They're laboratory mice. Their genes have been spliced. They're dinky. They're Pinky and the Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain

A biology ethics: or if the mouse shows human-like behaviors, like improved memory or problem-solving, it's time to stop."

Who is to say that mice ain't problem solvers by nature?