Saturday, January 31, 2004

Of Mice and Me

Once again John is way ahead of me. He sent me an article about a creatine-plus-minocycline study in ALS mice.

Now, the first thing both John and I wondered is how you can develop or maintain a breed of ALS mice when, in humans, the disease is vastly non-hereditary and the cause is unknown. If you know how to make ALS mice, don't you know what causes ALS? I think a hint lies in this paragraph from the article:

In the new study, Dr. Friedlander and colleagues studied mice with a mutation in the human SOD1 gene, which is found in about 20 percent of patients with familial ALS. Mice with this mutation develop nerve damage and neurological symptoms that mimic those of ALS in humans.

To me, that means they have schooled up a bunch of mice who have the rare, hereditary ALS, and are hoping that the treatment for the symptoms of these mice will be effective in animals with non-hereditary ALS. Water puts out a grass fire whether the fire was started with a match or a lighting bolt.

So creatine-plus-minocycline is better than riluzole in mice. The clinical trail for riluzole found this effect:

In the largest ALS clinical trial ever, Rilutek was shown to extend the survival of ALS patients by three months. A total of 959 patients participated in a multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase III trial, in which survival served as the primary endpoint.

Survival as the endpoint sounds like doublespeak meaning the endpoint is when the patient died.

The researchers assessed each mouse's motor strength and coordination on a weekly basis, starting at 10 weeks, by observing its ability to remain standing on a rod rotating at 5 and 15 revolutions per minute (rpm) for up to 7 minutes. Disease onset was defined as the first day a mouse could not remain on the rod for 7 minutes at 15 rpm.

Imagine how baffled those mice feel. Here I am, twirling on a rod and they're waiting for me to fall off and die. This is not what I planned. I don't understand what is wrong with me. When will I fall off? Let's see how long I can stretch this out... Maybe I will be the mouse who sets the world record for twirling. Super Mouse. Super Mouse. That's gotta be my mantra.

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