29 November 2011

“The mouse model”, which I prefer to call “mice”

Daniel Engber has a mammoth set of articles on Slate on the astonishing amount of research done on mice, and the creation of the predominant model organism for all biomedical research, possibly for all of biology.

It’s a epic trilogy on the creation of the model organism, and just how far you can take that research if your goal is to cure human diseases.

  • The mouse trap: “The modern lab mouse is one of the most glorious products of industrial biomedicine. Yet this powerful tool might have reached the limit of its utility. What if it's taught us all it can?”
  • The trouble with Black-6: “In truth, the armadillos, prairie voles, and the other exotic models live only at the margins of biomedicine.”
  • The anti-mouse: “Still, slow science may have rich rewards, and the decisions we make today—on whether to invest in new model organisms or build out the ones we already have—are sure to have profound effects on the (human) generations to come.”

And a bonus coda:

Lengthy, but widely-praised – and rightfully so. Excellent investigative science journalism.

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