Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mice



Maybe it's the prolonged winter that makes the human mind wander? I have launched a new project this week. I have started medical research on longevity using mice. One of my hobbies is the search of literature on aging. It sounds kinda boring, but it is fun to learn what people are studying and apply some of it to my own personal regime.

A LOT of work is going on in this field, spurred on by the fact that baby boomers are aging and they have money to spend on slowing that aging process. A year ago I stumbled across a website http://www.methuselahmouse.org/. It is a foundation started by some kook named Aubrey De Grey, who is not even a scientist, but interested in the study of longevity or ageing.

His foundation started a contest to encourage people to find techniques to make mice live longer.This would be equivalent to the contest that encouraged someone to fly the Atlantic alone, eventually won by Lindberg in 1928. Anyway, they have this contest that pays prize money to scientists that break the record, which stands at something like 1551 days, today.

I was actually contemplating a little experiment before I heard about Methuselah Mouse, as part of a book I am writing. Anyway, they turned me down when I asked to compete because I am not a registered "medical research facility". Kinda pissed me off, but I guess they have to have some rules. So I set out to do my own thing.........



I bought 20 male mice babies. Born roughly January 15th from a laboratory supply company. I spent about $200 on equipment. Then I bought a trip to Belize, all expenses paid, for Wendy, as a bribe for her permission to raise mice in our home. (the upside is that she has agreed to write a blog when she returns from this trip with her girlfriends). These first two pictures are of the initial setup............


......It took a week of trial and error to get the setup right. I had the most trouble with the water. I bought six water feeders, all essentially the same design, but from different manufacturers, and could get only one to work right. I had to switch back and forth until I could get another one to work. In the end, I built my own on the principle of the baby chick waterers my grandmother used in the brooder house years ago. One of the most difficult parameters I had to meet was the "fill once a week" one, as we don't want to be tied to this house by these damned mice for eh the next few years. They have to be "low maintenance". This is my "shop" where I tinkered with the watering devises, feeding options, exercise wheels, housing options, etc..........


....they live in the basement for now. With warmer weather I think they will be sent out to the garage as they smell more than I though they would(and Wendy will be back from Belize eventually). I will probably have to rig up some sort of heat-lamp incubator device for next winter.......


.........this is the "control" side. This is the final form of the setup for them, probably. They have food and water for a week and that is about it. It is basic, with no frills. They eat dog food as it is cheap, nutritious, and can be altered to fit the experiment. They will never know it is dog food. Neil and I did the research on this.

They all have names, but they are all called "Dave", after Dave Barry, a humorist writer whose books we read. His writing style sneaks into my writing like your septic system leaks into your well at times (did I write that?). Anyway, in one of his books he talks about surviving after a nuclear winter and his chances, which are bleak. He refers to the type of guys he knows who are big and strong and very smart who will survive with no problem through a nuclear winter. They are named "Steve". Dave then admits he would probably spend the first few days of a nuclear winter passing through the digestive system of a wolf................


These are the Steves, so named since they will hopefully survive 50% longer than the Daves, according to the experimental hypothesis. They have access to exercise, with a wheel and ping pong balls to play with. They have dog food that is modified with huge doses of vitamins and supplements I have selected from my study of longevity research studies. And (you will love this!!) their water is spiked with alcohol! It is at a level that translates to two drinks a day, which is showing up more and more in scientific and lay publications as important for health and longevity.....

Uncle Hans

1 comments:

Barb said...

I'm beginning to wonder what your mother fed you "boys" while growing? What you guys don't come up with. (Shaking my head.) Entertaining though, I'll say that for you. And are we surprised that alchohol came into play? NO.
Will be awaiting updates, please no pics of dead mice.