Next: OHSU's $5,000 mouse

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Saturday, December 01, 2007


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It’s a tricky thing to talk up a mouse without getting cheesy. But this little guy, by all appearances a normal rodent, has a human liver inside of it, making it a real-life mighty mouse worth at least five grand. Markus Grompe of the Oregon Stem Cell Center at Oregon Health & Science University is breeding more of this star in hopes of revolutionizing the way drugs are tested. The mouse’s liver is infected with disease and then healthy human liver cells are transplanted into it; these human cells thrive until the liver is only 10% mouse. The new liver allows the mice to metabolize and excrete medications like a human. Pharmaceutical companies testing medication toxicity and searching for disease cures are interested because testing on this mouse is like testing on real human liver cells, which are hard to come by. Previous technology only allowed for an inconsequential number of human cells in mice, and a more recent Japanese version can’t control the liver disease or stop healthy mouse liver cells from regenerating. Those mice have shorter life spans and are difficult to breed, which makes Grompe optimistic that he’s developed a big seller. With the Japanese mice selling for $5,000 each, Grompe could be holding a small, furry fortune in his hands.   AMBER NOBE


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