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Lab Freak: Mighty Mouse Just Runs and Runs

Lab Freak: Mighty Mouse Just Runs and Runs

Real life "mighty mice" are transgenic mice bred at Case Western Reserve University. These mice are able to run more than 3 miles (5-6 kilometers) at a speed of 1 foot per second (20 meters per minute) on a treadmill. The "mighty mice" eat about 60 percent more than the control mice, but remain fitter, trimmer and live and breed longer than wild mice in a control group.

In side-by-side treadmill tests, the transgenic mice run for hours longer (see video).

These mice achieve excellence in a manner that seems very similar to the way that Lance Armstrong does it—in addition to training hard, Armstrong was born with specific capacities that make him different from most people. For example, when he exercises, his body utilizes lactate more efficiently; it does not accumulate as much as it does in most bikers and runners.

"Armstrong's most unusual attribute may be his low lactate levels. During intense training, the levels of most racers range from 12 uL/kg to as much as 20 uL/kg; Armstrong is below 6 uL/kg."

Lactate is believed by scientists to be a useful fuel for the body, but when it builds up, it decreases performance and causes pain. And what about the "mighty mice?"

"What is particularly dramatic is the difference in the concentrations of lactate in the blood," the researchers said. "At the beginning of exercise, the concentration of lactate was similar in two groups of mice, but by the end of the exercise period, the control group had elevated levels of blood lactate with little change in the levels in the [mighty] mice."

Mice are quickly acquiring other remarkable characteristics, thanks to hard-working researchers:

E.T. Mouse Hearts Glow Researchers at Cornell have created mice whose heart muscles have been genetically engineered to fluoresce when the muscles contract (see photo).

Mouse With Human Brain May Live Stanford University has given famed researcher Irving Weissman permission to create a mouse-human hybrid.

Source: Case Western Reserve University

(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission of - where science meets fiction.)

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Bill Christensen
Bill Christensen catalogues the inventions, technology and ideas of science fiction writers at his website, Technovelgy. He is a contributor to Live Science.