Mice and Aging

by Laura Ehrenberg-Chesler on March 27, 2019

in lifestyle,Recommended Reading

In today’s “Wall Street Journal” there is a fascinating article on the importance of mice to the research of aging.

Grace and Blanche, two old mice who were second cousins, reached relative fame before dying within months of each other at their home in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Known fondly as the Golden Girls at Jackson Laboratory, a nonprofit that specializes in research and mouse production, the two were believed to be the oldest living mice in the world just before their passing in 2016.
Gary Churchill, a geneticist who does aging research at the lab, was hoping one of them would reach her fifth birthday, a feat unknown to mice. Grace, the eldest, was 4 years and nine months old when she died, roughly the equivalent of 150 human years.

Aging mice are important to research on aging people, which is a growing field. Scientists put old mice, which are basically ones between the age of 18 and 24 months, in mazes to see how long it takes them to get out—a test of cognitive abilities. They put them on diets to see if cutting calories helps mice live longer (it does) and house them in groups to test theories about the impact of social networks on aging (it’s good). There’s a Core Facility for Aged Rodents at the University of Michigan’s Geriatrics Center.

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