When it comes to determining what will make humans healthy and disease-free, research involving mice has had remarkably few successes.
On a near-daily basis, the public is bombarded with news headlines announcing the latest “breakthrough” findings related to cancer, obesity, psychological disorders, and so on. Here are just a few examples from the past couple of years:
- “High fat/low carb diet could help treat schizophrenia” (Yahoo News)
- “A 12-Hour Window for a Healthy Weight” (New York Times)
- “Mother’s high-fat diet alters metabolism in offspring, leading to higher obesity risk” (Yale News)
- “Eat your broccoli to protect against liver cancer” (Medical News Today)
The problem is that the research studies highlighted in the above articles — and in thousands of articles like them — were based on animals, usually mice. That is, not humans. So as exciting as these studies might sound, journalists should actually stop covering them, period.
To be sure, studies involving mice can be immensely useful for some purposes. Mice are relatively cheap, they are plentiful, they can be genetically bred for specific aims, and they can be killed and dissected to see how they were affected over the course of an experiment. If you want to know whether a substance is so toxic that it will make an organism drop dead or cause its brain to stop functioning normally, give it to a mouse.
But when it comes to determining what will make humans healthy and disease-free, research involving mice has had remarkably few successes.
Stuart Buck – Arnold Ventures – April 8, 2016.