I wish I was a diabetic mouse

By | 25 November, 2011
A diabetic mouse - cured yesterday

A diabetic mouse – cured yesterday

As I sit each morning over my toast and marmalade appraising the latest edition of The Times propped up against the teapot – the warming scent of lapsang souchong drifting through the air – my eye is often drawn to the latest medical developments in the wild world of diabetes research.

In general I think diabetes research is great. After all, if our old friend Fred Banting hadn’t had an interest in isolating insulin back in 1922 the readership (and, indeed, authorship) of this blog would be considerably lower than it is now.

However, I do think there is a considerable bias in diabetes research – not towards type one or type two or anything like that. No, there’s huge favouritism in terms of time, effort and funding towards researching a cure for diabetic mice.

Every single day there are reports some new breakthrough that gives a new lease of life to those rodenty balls of fluff. Take for example the following I found via Google News merely seconds ago:

Compound blocks diabetes 1 progress in mice & human cells
Researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine have found a molecule that can prevent the development of type 1 diabetes in mice
[Source: http://www.prohealth.com/library/showarticle.cfm?libid=16614]

Barbara Davis Center researcher reveals treatment for type 1 diabetes preventing the disease in mice
Aaron Michels was ecstatic when, a few months ago, he found that a drug-like molecule could prevent the development of type 1 diabetes in mice.
[Source: http://www.aurorasentinel.com/hp_living/article_9e6c19fc-0c77-11e1-bafb-001cc4c002e0.html]

Rooibos shows promise in curbing diabetes
Japanese scientists found that rooibos helps improve the glucose uptake of muscle cells, thereby maintaining normal blood sugar levels in diabetic mice
[Source: http://www.health24.com/news/Diabetes/1-904,71502.asp]

Diabetes in Lab Mice Reversed with Natural Compound
A team of researchers in the United States reported recently that it was able to cure Type 2 diabetes in mice.
[Source: http://www.voanews.com/english/news/health/Diabetes-in-Lab-Mice-Reversed-with-Natural-Compound-133994108.html]

And there were plenty more where they came from!

Looking through these and other stories it’s clear that researchers have a fixation with treating our diabetic cheese-eating fiends. I wonder why? It’s not as if anyone really likes mice is it? A few years ago my old flat had a mouse and I spent weeks trying my best to kill it (I eventually succeeded, but it got its revenge by dying behind the fridge where I couldn’t get to it – filling the flat with the fetid smell of slowly decomposing mouse. Clearly it had the last laugh). No one cares about the rising type two epidemic in obese mice and no one campaigns for tiny ickle insulin pumps for rodents either.

So come on boffins – pull your fingers out, stop curing mice and start curing humans!

26 thoughts on “I wish I was a diabetic mouse

  1. Tim Post author

    To save you looking it up “rooibos” is some sort of herbal thingy that’s meant to cure diabetes. This, naturally enough, is bollocks.

    1. Paul

      It’s funny because it supposed to cure my mums MS as well … Which is equally bollocks.

      Roolbos the homeopathy of the tea world!
      Unlike homeopathy it leaves a distinctly unpleasant taste.

  2. Annette A

    Rooibos is also known as Red Bush tea, Which is a naturally decaffinated version of the usual stuff. I drink it occasionally. I’m still diabetic. ’nuff said.

    1. Cecile

      @annette: How could you force A. linearis (gebore en getoΓ« in die Sederberge) to be related to C. sinensis? And “decaffeinated” should be “caffeinless” ! (rushing off to change surname to RooiBosman – ironically, ’cause I hate the stuff…Honeybush/cyclopia bush leaves is/are much better, and can be blamed if my urine goes mellitic and used as reason for having only one good eye :D)

    1. Lola

      Much nicer than other types of ‘herbal’ tea, which often smell delicious and taste like dishwater. You can even add milk to Redbush and drink it like normal tea.

      1. Tim Post author

        @Katie has an addiction to Turkish apple tea at the minute – I haven’t tried it myself, but it certainly smells nice!

        1. Alison

          I found rooibos tea tasted suspiciously similar to how I imagine boiled TCP woud taste. I much prefer Turkish apple tea, that’s far more pleasant.

          1. Cecile

            Goodness! TCP has more of a millipede whiff to it – rooibos has always reminded me of bloody horse piss.

  3. Karmel

    I have two Non-Obese Diabetic mice that have recently reached the state of full diabetes. I will sacrifice them on Sunday, extract and plate their cells, and try to figure out what about certain cells makes them different than normal mouse cells. Are you sure you want to take the place of lab mice?

    In all seriousness, lab mice perform a crucial role; the “curing” of lab mice has nothing to do with saving mice– in fact, it certainly requires their death. Rather, it is all to better understand what is wrong with our own diabetic bodies– and for that, the help of mice is invaluable, because when was the last time any one of us went in for a pancreas biopsy or completely-untested-drug trial? Mice are valuable particularly because they are dispensable.

    That said, there is talk in the scientific community at large (by no means just the diabetes-science community) that we rely too heavily on the mouse as a model system, and we need better alternatives. Stem cell cultures are helping there, especially with neurological diseases. (The mouse is similar enough in many points concerning diabetes; the brain of a mouse, though, is far from a human brain.)

    All of this to say, we owe a large portion of our understanding about the pathology of diabetes to mice. Don’t hate.

    1. Tim Post author

      Hi Karmel – welcome to Shoot Up and don’t forget to activate your facetiousness-detectors! πŸ˜‰ We love mice really! You sound like you know a bit about research – are you involved in this area?

      1. Karmel

        I didn’t miss the playful tone (I hope you don’t really think I was offering to extract your cells, either πŸ™‚ ), but I have seen a growing sense of, “Why so much focus on mice?” when there is a good reason for the focus. Sure, using human tissues would be better, scientifically speaking, but ethically there are a few problems there πŸ™‚

        And I have recently started in research: http://asweetlife.org/author/karmel

        Nice to meet(ish) you!

        1. Tim Post author

          Ethics, eh? They just get in the way! πŸ˜‰ It may be apocryphal but apparently Banting used to regularly run out of dogs to test his early pancreatic extracts on, so he would send out lab assistants to round up any dogs they found wandering the streets of Toronto. I’ve certainly seen a picture of Banting with a dog on an improvised lead made out of his tie! Try getting that past an ethics committee now, eh?

          And nice to meet you too! πŸ™‚

  4. Annette A

    I have heard that pigs are the most human like in their bodies/organs/functions. I appreciate that pigs are much bigger than mice and take longer to reach maturity and are harder to look after etc etc etc, but I was just wondering – has anybody ever ‘experimented’ on a diabetic pig?

    1. Tim Post author

      I ate a pig in the form of rolled pork belly last night – I tested the effect it had on my blood glucose; so does that count?

  5. Megs

    There must be fields full of diabetic pigs somewhere as I think porcine insulin is still available. Once they have had all their own insulin squeezed into vials surely it would make sense to use them for some research and give mice a well deserved break.

    1. Tim Post author

      Or we could try experimenting on other animals – for example aardwolves, blue whales or octopuses* maybe

      * I’ve specifically spelt it this way to annoy pedants

  6. Annette A

    “The term, then, is obviously a relative one: my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education and someone else’s ignorance.”
    Fowler, Modern English Usage
    I go with ‘reasonable accuracy’, myself…
    ‘the only acceptable plural in English is “octopuses”‘…”octopi” is ‘misconceived’…”octopodes” [is] ‘pedantic’. (ibid)
    So, by definition, given Fowler above, precisely, pedantic is Octopodes…

  7. Mike

    So actually the true pedant would have to suggest: “…for example aardwolves, blue whales or maybe octopuses*”

    Since ‘maybe’ has its adverb on there doesn’t it? πŸ˜€ (I’ll get me coat)

  8. Donald Thomson

    Since we’re getting all pedantic about grammar, shouldn’t the title of your article be ‘I wish I were a diabetic mouse’? Conditional rather than past tense . . . πŸ˜‰

  9. lizz

    Typical. A perfectly good discussion made better by arguments about grammar. I love this forum. So much better than other fora.

    I love herbal tea. Simply can’t be bothered to link to the articles, but if any tea looks like a hope, I’ll drink it. I had to give up ordinary tea when I became allergic to milk, and forced myself to drink herbal. Started on peppermint which I didn’t find too bad. At least, better than the other hideous concoctions. But would you believe it, I now like it. My fave is Clipper Sleepy time or something like that, it is delicious sends you to sleep. If I could only drink it all day without dropping off my seat, I would. In between my black coffees. And ordinary tea at meals which i now drink with oat milk, also delicious.

    Is this too much information?

  10. lady up north

    Best herbal tea I’ve found is a sort of chai massala thingy sold in Asian shops. It contains cardomans, ginger, peppercorns, and a couple of other things similar (not got a pack handy to check). It wakes you up, gives you energy and does not affect the blasted sugar levels. (unless like one bangladeshi lady I know you have 4 spoons of sugar in a tiny cup !)

    And @lizz, yes Clipper Sleepy is wonderful – and definitely does what it says on the tin (well, box, but we’re back to being pedantic again lol).


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