Mice have been used for all sorts of different scientific purposes, but this instance is truly unique.
Mice, who are often used in experiments for their similarities in bodily systems to humans, are often not good candidates for pharmaceutical testing, because their livers greatly differ from those of humans. But, according to MIT News, this new discovery should change that.
An MIT researcher, Alice Chen, has discovered a new way to "humanize" mice, making them suitable for pharmaceutical testing.
Chen, a student in the MIT-Harvard Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST), was able to grow human liver tissue in the mice, according to LiveScience. These new mouse livers respond to drugs in a similar fashion to human livers.
According to MIT News, the scientists at MIT created a "scaffold" of cells and nutrients in order to bolster cells before they were implanted in mice. This allows scientists to rapidly implant the cells in mice (up to 50 a day), quickly creating viable mice as the livers only take about a week to grow.
The mice were described in the July 11 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), and hope to be more widely distributed in the near future.
As LiveScience points out, this is not the first time scientists have created "humanized" mice, but this method is the first to show real promise and produce consistently healthy mice. As a result, the mice could be quickly and widely distributed because they would be healthy enough for transportation.