November 6, 2007 in Nation/World

Super mice to be used in studies

Barb Galbincea Newhouse

CLEVELAND – They’re lean, mean running machines.

Mighty mice genetically engineered at Case Western Reserve University can gallop on rodent-sized treadmills for as long as six hours and cover more than three miles before they’re tuckered out. That’s like running a 5K race.

Less genetically gifted mice max out at 0.2 kilometers.

The uber-mice also have voracious appetites but practically no body fat. And they bite – a lot.

Richard Hanson, a biochemistry professor at Case, said he and the rest of the research team weren’t aiming to create tiny endurance athletes with attitude.

The mighty mouse line is actually a serendipitous byproduct of the researchers’ ongoing look at an enzyme involved in producing glucose, or sugar, as a source of energy in the liver and the kidneys.

Why the single enzyme so affects the mice is still being studied.

But because of their unusual attributes, the animals will be used as test subjects in upcoming experiments involving aging and the effect of exercise in fending off cancer.

A paper describing the study is to be published Friday in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

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