Diseases by Design

Jacob Halaska, ©Index Stock Imagery Researchers like mice. US government statistics reveal that the whiskered ones show up in 90% of all experiments. Mice come cheap, procreate often, and die fairly quickly. And although evolution separates mouse from human by an estimated 75 to 100 million years, biologically and genetically speaking, they share a lot; as much as 85% of the DNA in mice is the same in humans. The research ground that mice have domineered for a century, however, is reced

Jennifer Fisher Wilson
Jun 1, 2003
Jacob Halaska, ©Index Stock Imagery

Researchers like mice. US government statistics reveal that the whiskered ones show up in 90% of all experiments. Mice come cheap, procreate often, and die fairly quickly. And although evolution separates mouse from human by an estimated 75 to 100 million years, biologically and genetically speaking, they share a lot; as much as 85% of the DNA in mice is the same in humans.

The research ground that mice have domineered for a century, however, is receding somewhat, as technologies and new discoveries make working with other organisms more efficacious. Rats replicate high blood pressure and atherosclerosis more readily than mice; in addition, their bigger brains are often easier to manipulate. Transparent zebrafish easily show circulating blood cells, making them useful for studying anemia. The physiology of rabbits more closely resembles humans than does that of mice or rats. And Caenorhabditis elegans has been manipulated...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?