Sometimes we hate mice, but sometimes we love them.
You can now own a mouse with an immune system that's identical to yours. Why would you want to do that? So that drugs and medical therapies can be tested on the mouse first, before they're used on you. Some researchers call them "avatars, like the virtual characters in movies and video games.
While these "mouse models" are mostly used for general research, companies are beginning to personalize them to help with an individual patient's medical treatment.
One problem: This avatar can cost tens of thousands of dollars and it won't be covered by insurance.
In the September 26th edition of the New York Times, Andrew Pollack reports that one family paid $25,000 for avatar creation to help their son, who has a rare type of bone cancer. Tumors of the same disease were placed under the skin of a mouse, and after they had grown, they were removed, cut into pieces, and each piece was placed under the skin of another mouse. Each of these mice was given a different drug regimen, and one of them--a combination of four drugs--was "astonishingly active" in shrinking the tumor.
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