Are You A Man Or A Mouse? Rhetorical?


I blame Mickey for the confusion.  Certainly, the world’s most famous mouse carries some very human traits.  So, I can understand why some researchers would believe mice are the perfect test subjects for medicines and treatments for human ailments.  Oddly enough, Mickey and friends don’t really represent the majority of the mouse population. 

Here’s what one typically looks like.


As you can see in the above picture, this doesn’t resemble humans like Mickey does. 


We can all have great fun with this.  But, in reality, this is tragic.  People may think the above is simply jest, but it isn’t.  People whom the public has trusted:  Trusted their objectivity, trusted their judgment, and trusted their abilities, with treasure and life have failed us.  They’ve shown a thought process too rigid, too compliant, and frankly, too simple to have such trust.  They simply aren’t smart enough to warrant such trust. 

Forgive me, I haven’t told you what I’m on about.  New study out!!! 

Genomic responses in mouse models poorly mimic human inflammatory diseases

Now, I do welcome the news.  However, we’ve known about inflammatory diseases for a very long time now.  Far too long for us to have just now accepted the fact that mice may not be good test subjects for all things human.  Here’s the accompanying press release.

Mice Fall Short as Test Subjects for Humans’ Deadly Ills

Here’s some notable parts of the piece.

For decades, mice have been the species of choice in the study of human diseases. But now, researchers report evidence that the mouse model has been totally misleading for at least three major killers — sepsis, burns and trauma. As a result, years and billions of dollars have been wasted following false leads, they say.

Oddly, they left out the part of about the millions of people dying because of this idiocy.

The paper, published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, helps explain why every one of nearly 150 drugs tested at a huge expense in patients with sepsis has failed. The drug tests all were based on studies in mice. And mice, it turns out, can have something that looks like sepsis in humans, but is very different from the condition in humans.

How many times does one have to do things which result in failure before one realizes the process may be wrong? …….  That perhaps a different approach may be warranted?

Sepsis, a potentially deadly reaction that occurs as the body tries to fight an infection, afflicts 750,000 patients a year in the United States, kills one-fourth to one-half of them, and costs the nation $17 billion a year. It is the leading cause of death in intensive-care units.

The new study, which took 10 years and involved 39 researchers from across the country, began by studying white blood cells from hundreds of patients with severe burns, trauma or sepsis to see what genes were being used by white blood cells when responding to these danger signals.

Because WBCs are a very new discovery in the medical and science world. 

The researchers found some interesting patterns and accumulated a large, rigorously collected data set that should help move the field forward, said Ronald W. Davis, a genomics expert at Stanford University and a lead author of the new paper. Some patterns seemed to predict who would survive and who would end up in intensive care, clinging to life and, often, dying.

The group had tried to publish its findings in several papers. One objection, Dr. Davis said, was that the researchers had not shown the same gene response had happened in mice.

Because if it doesn’t work for Mickey, it won’t work for humans?

“They were so used to doing mouse studies that they thought that was how you validate things,” he said. “They are so ingrained in trying to cure mice that they forget we are trying to cure humans.”

Any researcher so invested in such rigid thinking needs to become an accountant or something.  Certainly, they shouldn’t be entrusted with our lives and treasure.

“That started us thinking,” he continued. “Is it the same in the mouse or not?”

The group decided to look, expecting to find some similarities. But when the data were analyzed, there were none at all.

Even more surprising, Dr. Warren said, was that different conditions in mice — burns, trauma, sepsis — did not fit the same pattern. Each condition used different groups of genes. In humans, though, similar genes were used in all three conditions.

Better late than never?

The study’s investigators tried for more than a year to publish their paper, which showed that there was no relationship between the genetic responses of mice and those of humans. They submitted it to the publications Science and Nature, hoping to reach a wide audience. It was rejected from both.

Science and Nature…….. yes, the guardians of static knowledge. 

Still, Dr. Davis said, reviewers did not point out scientific errors. Instead, he said, “the most common response was, ‘It has to be wrong. I don’t know why it is wrong, but it has to be wrong.’ ”

How often do we see this in science?  Much too frequently. 

“When I read the paper, I was stunned by just how bad the mouse data are,” Dr. Fink said. “It’s really amazing — no correlation at all. These data are so persuasive and so robust that I think funding agencies are going to take note.” Until now, he said, “to get funding, you had to propose experiments using the mouse model.”

Whomever was responsible for or even helped make this a policy should be charged with murder and/or accessory to murder.

Yet there was always one major clue that mice might not really mimic humans in this regard: it is very hard to kill a mouse with a bacterial infection. Mice need a million times more bacteria in their blood than what would kill a person.

We’ve know this for decades.   

“This is a very important paper,” said Dr. Richard Hotchkiss, a sepsis researcher at Washington University who was not involved in the study. “It argues strongly — go to the patients. Get their cells. Get their tissues whenever you can. Get cells from airways.”

To understand sepsis, you have to go to the patients,” he said.

A novel approach, to be sure. 

Can people, supposedly our best and brightest, really be that stupid?  To get a feel for what has been known and what obvious conclusions one can make from what was known, read Wiki’s history section of “sepsis“.  I point to Wiki because wiki is woefully simplistic and reflects common knowledge.  Of course, not always, sometimes it is simply wrong, but, this Wiki entry is reasonably explanatory.

As the article mentions, this doesn’t mean that all study of mice is useless.  But, what should have been obvious to anyone with a working brain cell is that mice and humans are not the same, and even in genetic or molecular biology, we will not always react in the same manner. 

Question:  How is it that mice transmit diseases that may kill humans but, not the mouse?  Answer:  BECAUSE WE DON’T RESPOND IN THE SAME MANNER!!! 

Our best and brightest just now figured this out.  Now, here’s a thought, and only a suggestion from a lowly layman.  Let’s find an animal which may more closely mimic humans in the case of sepsis than mice do.  And, as the article suggested, maybe we could more focus more on the genetic and cellular responses of humans when they have this inflammatory immune response.  Just some thoughts. 

h/t Lat

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24 Responses to Are You A Man Or A Mouse? Rhetorical?

  1. miked1947 says:

    Animals that more resemble humans in response to ills are being protected from research by animal rights groups. Thank PETA for the lack of proper research.
    This is another case where the researchers are stuck in a rut!

    • DirkH says:

      You can use pigs. Much more similar to humans. They’re more expensive though so the researchers prefer mice where possible. Of course from time to time activists blockade the lab when they find out you work with pigs (as a researcher told me).

      Haven’t heard about shutdowns of mice labs though. There’s at least one institution in my hometown that works with mice. No reports about protests. Maybe Lower Saxons are so busy panicking over radioactivity that they don’t have time to protest at the mice lab. We have several places where radioactive waste is destined to be deposited; a fertile breeding ground for anti nuclear protests.

      • miked1947 says:

        I guess Pigs resemble some humans is more ways than Biological structure. Maybe the activist think they are protecting their KIN FOLK!

      • miked1947 says:

        Mice tend to breed faster than pigs or humans! 😉 Well some humans!!!!!

        • DirkH says:

          That’s the reason they’re more expensive. They don’t breed THAT slow, though. Ask any feral pig that feasts on the corn monoculture we have for the biogas converters.

        • miked1947 says:

          I tried that with the last alarmist I conversed with but like everything else they were in denial that they were PIGS!

  2. Jim Masterson says:

    How many times does one have to do things which result in failure before one realizes the process may be wrong? ……. That perhaps a different approach may be warranted?

    This also applies to Socialism and socialists. The truth is socialists never tire of testing their failed experiment again and again.


  3. Latitude says:

    You missed the big one…..the drugs that they developed using mice……actually made the condition worse in humans…..the mice drugs can kill you!!…..yet, they obviously kept killing people by being hard headed about it

    “The drug failures became clear. For example, often in mice, a gene would be used, while in humans, the comparable gene would be suppressed. A drug that worked in mice by disabling that gene could make the response even more deadly in humans. “

  4. cdquarles says:

    Not surprised by this at all. Mice/rats are good models for some things and bad for others. By the way, there are bacteria humans carry that kill other animals. Just sayin’ :). Now that I think about it, I wonder which bacterial strains were they using in the mouse model? Human pathogens or mouse pathogens, (I’d guess human ones, but, there ya go. Bad input begets bad output).

    The chemistry professor who made the biggest impression on my back in my University days had a saying. I don’t know where he got it from (and I doubt that it was original, for it sounded like something out of the early days of systematic science). “Never make vast conclusions from half-vast data”, he always reminded us. Chemistry professor, remember, who specialized in x-ray crystallography. I remember the 5-fold symmetry controversy of the day. Did I not see something linked here that referenced that? Anyway, for the x-ray crystallographers, it was a big deal, and in the days before interactive graphical computer rendering, ‘gophers like me’ keypunched out the programs and the data and got back hard copy. Rarely did we get to see the films.

    Speaking of x-ray films, that is a field fraught with interpretation issues, particularly before the days of 3-d x-rays. A chest x-ray, for instance, requires visualizing where a shadow created by a lesion in 3-d would show up on a 2-d projection. Multiple views helps (as does doing x-rays on cadavers then comparing the autopsy findings to the films.

    Anyway, let us not forget that as long as we inhabit incarnate, via chemical, bodies, that the laws that God made for chemistry still apply. Also we should never forget that in the Word of God the modern life span and life expectancy was set down. Life span = 120, which is what God told Moses and was how long Moses walked the Earth. Life expectancy = 70, which is what God told us about groups, because in that reference was that how you behaved could lessen your count of days from 120 years.

  5. DirkH says:

    “Can people, supposedly our best and brightest, really be that stupid? ”

    Yes. We see the same pattern in drug tests, alarmist warmism and, for instance psychiatry. Lakatos described the pattern as “Degenerative Research Programs”.

    (As for the psychiatry: I’ve just been reading some cases of psychiatric mistreatment in Germany. Number of cases put into the psychiatric clinics against their will rises by 0.4 % a year; currently 130,000 cases in a country with 80 million inhabitants. Mostly young males. A woman I know works in that growth sector. I try to be very nice to her so she doesn’t have me interned. 🙂
    And we all know the trend of drugging up kids with Ritalin.)

    • DirkH says:

      Oh, and there’s an interesting link between psychology and alarmist warmism: As alarmist warmism is the Political Religion of the EU, and psychology of course wants to have its share of the loot, there is the field of environmental psychology and environmental sociology. Now what to environmental psychologists do – prescribe psychopharmaka to poor vertebrates whose habitat warmed up too much? No – they busy themselves squandering taxpayer money by analysing the roots of climate scepticism and other Bad Opinions. As the EU is a copy of the USSR we can expect the psychiatrization of political opposition RSN – if it isn’t already happening. The sector works very silently; they just let people disappear forever without the public media raising an eyebrow.

      Which is not a real danger – you just have to tread very lightly in the EU…

  6. tckev says:

    Dr. Davis said, reviewers did not point out scientific errors. Instead, he said, “the most common response was, ‘It has to be wrong. I don’t know why it is wrong, but it has to be wrong.’ ”

    Much like the standard peer-review process it is stuck with its conventional knowledge view of the world and anything too far out gets an automated rejection. An old report by By Robert Higgs back in May 7, 2007 said a lot –

    Also the history of the treatment for stomach ulcers is a case in point.
    Animal models are very poor at mirroring how the disease progresses in humans. For years the standard model was that some humans were producing too much stomach acid, that gave them ulcers, and the standard treatment was antacids.
    Australian doctors J. Robin Warren and Barry Marshall isolated Helicobacter pylori, and they showed that there was a bacterial cause of peptic ulcer disease. They we scorned and rejected. After some truly epic self experimentation by Dr. Marshall, they proved their theory. They were later awarded a Nobel Prize.

  7. Gary Meyers in Ridgecrest, CA says:

    One has to wonder if these scientists are being funded to find cures for medical conditions or being funded in the name of research or for the sake of being funded.

    • miked1947 says:

      Research is BIG business! It is more about Research than results. Most research papers end with: More research is needed in this area. The research paper is little more than a request for additional funding.

      • tckev says:

        I need a grant to research this further.

      • HankH says:

        My research is with a large private multi-site clinic. We receive no grants nor do we profit from our research. All of our research is focused on human subjects, not mice.

        One might ask why we do research when they’re little to no profit in it? The answer is having a research arm in a private clinic attracts “cream of the crop” doctors who want to provide patient care but still want opportunity to conduct research, publish, and be on the leading edge of medical discovery. By attracting such doctors, our clinic is one of the top rated clinics in the country and one of only three in the world that can perform certain life saving surgical procedures that we helped pioneer.

        I’m just making the point that a significant portion of medical research is not driven by grants and profit but rather a desire to be good at what we do and make a difference in the quality of the care of our patients (who benefit directly from our research).

        Now, if you wanted me to, I could point out quite a number of cases of medical research gone very wrong (not from my clinic) because the government was funding and pulling the strings. It’s kind of analogous to climate research – lure of money, group think, confirmation bias, stacking the deck, shoddy practices, cooked data, and sometimes outright fraud.

        • HankH says:

          they’re little to no profit

          Overactive spell checker. … there’s little to no profit

        • miked1947 says:

          Your case is the exception!
          During my time working in Las Vegas 90% of the research I observed was for the purpose of research, driven by the funding, not by the desired results that were claimed. I did meet some that were in it for the pleasure of finding solutions and helping others with the results. As in your case they were rare.

        • HankH says:

          You make a good point. In the bigger picture my case might be the exception. I know that most, if not all, teaching hospitals and academic research are grant driven by a great degree. Corporate research in medical devices, drugs, and testing is mostly driven by profit. There’s lots of opportunity in both to loose sight of what’s important and focus too much on the money. I feel that government grant money does corrupt which is why I would rather leave the field than grub for grants. Perhaps gone are the days when science had to be practical and marketable.

  8. Bruce says:

    Are You A Man Or A Mouse? Rhetorical?

    Not rhetorical!

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