CNN has a nice overview for the layperson about why mice are so important to research:
…the genes of mice and humans are virtually identical. The obvious differences between us and them lie not in the genes themselves but in where, when and how those genes are activated.
“It means that the anatomy and physiology of a mouse is pretty darn similar to what you see in a human,” said Rick Woychik, director of the Jackson Laboratory.
When scientists began working with mice a century ago they didn’t know anything about DNA, and had only the foggiest notion of genes. But mice were the obvious choice for breeding experiments. Small, docile and more than willing to reproduce, they were readily available from the collections of Victorian mouse fanciers who bred the animals to have interesting coat colors and patterns. Many of today’s most popular lab mouse strains are direct descendants of those original “fancy mice.”
We learned a few things, too, from their historical context. The prices of various knockout mice were interesting to note, as well. Check it out.
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