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Tag Archives: mice

We’ve known for years that we can raise our IQ by eating gifted children

Or, we could if experiments done in flatworms translated directly to humans. If you haven’t read about James McConnell’s experiments with Planarians and memory transfer, I urge you to do so, if only just for the opportunity to read science writing that sounds as if it was ripped directly from the pages of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It also turns out that their blood is carrying some youthful factor that we want as well. The trouble is getting it out of them and into us. One might immediately think of vampires – which is not a bad place to start, but it might require a bit of refinement.

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Get ’em while they’re smart!

Science magazine from 9 May 2014 informs us that there is something soluble in the blood of young mice that, when transferred to older mice – well, to put it simply, it rejuvenates them.  “The therapeutic implications are profound if this mechanism holds true in people,” says Matt Kaeberlein in the News and Analysis summary accompanying the article.

This article captured my interest and made me want to write about it for several reasons. First, this is effectively a ‘Fountain of Youth’ experiment – and it seems to work! Researchers have long wondered: what keeps the young, young and makes the old, old? What changes as we age? Can we stop it? Reverse it?

In terms of ethics, should we even be looking at age as a disease? Or is it just something that happens and needs to be accepted?

ImageMost notably, work has been done to show that telomere length and the enzymes that maintain it, may be intimately involved in the aging process. Telomeres are sections of non-coding DNA at the very ends of chromosomes that consist of a number of sequence repeats. The thinking is that these DNA elements are maintained (by telomerase) in order to prevent the chromosomes from getting attacked and destroyed by nuclease enzymes. I think the Ponds Institute has been working on this for years 🙂

The other interesting thing about this work is the technique that gave us the data in support of this hypothesis. It’s a fantastic experiment called parabiosis. From the Greek you can see that this ‘living with one another’ experiment involves making artificial siamese twins of two mice, an old one and a young one.

I hope to be able to discuss this procedure in some detail in upcoming posts. But, until then, let us be satisfied that the technique was done. This now permits the intermingling of soluble blood products between one (clonal) mouse and another. When it’s done, something, crosses from one animal to the other. This provides cellular cues to the fact that something from this young mouse has been lost in older mice, but if it could be restored, it would result in (at least some) regeneration of youth.

– I’ll come back and revisit this more in the future to explain what has actually been observed and also to discuss some other interesting experiments carried out using this parabiosis technique. Right now I’m falling asleep and violating a new family rule on computer time to boot!

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Science Denialism – continued

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Human glial chimeric mice are faster learners across a range of behavioral tests

Although this entry is not really science denialism, I did think it serendipitous when I heard Terry Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air interviewing Emily Anthes  about her book, Frankenstein’s Cat. The connection is that both journalists spoke about the intersection of science and society. Mr. Specter spoke more about how important it is for our politicians to heed the advice of scientists (among other things), while Ms. Anthes appeared to be more skeptical of accepting science without seriously questioning the morals and ethics of each advance.

As I write this, I know that I am much more in line with the views of Mr. Specter and believe that science offers society hope for the future, but I can’t help but notice that it appears that I am counseling against ethical consideration. This is not the case, however I sometimes wonder if people give fair consideration to values of society as a whole in these issues, or if they just get caught up in a knee-jerk reaction.

Let me see if I can provide one quick example of what I mean when I say this: I also heard a recent report of human –> mouse glial cell transplant resulting in the animals showing substantial gains in the rapidity in which they could solve mazes. At the end of this report, the journalist questioned whether this raised ethical challenges because these mice were now ‘superior’ to other mice. This implied that these animals were more intelligent and this made them more human-like . Although I understand the basis for this question, there are much more human-like animals that are subject to scientific investigation than mice. The question of whether a pretty smart mouse exceeded the consideration given to the health and welfare of dogs or non-human primates is probably a long way off.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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From J. Coyne’s blog

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what kind of protein is p53 an example of / why would Mark be so sad?

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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