Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Christine O'Donnell and the mice with human brains
I almost enjoy - alright damn it! I love - listening to stupid politicians speak about science-related matters. Most are out of their league almost immediately. Still they keep trying to impress us with their scientific knowledge.
I’ve got a list of examples, but let’s just take one for today.
Sometimes, political science-gaffes spring from misremembered news bites. That seems to be the case for Christine O'Donnell, a Tea Party favorite who, during an appearance on The O'Reilly Factor in 2007, made a strange case against cloning and stem-cell research.
"American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains," O'Donnell said. "So they're already into this experiment."
Not quite. It seems the research O'Donnell was referring to was a 2005 study in which fetal mice were injected with human embryonic stem cells.
The mice were born with human brain cells in their skulls, but certainly not human brains — and there was no "cross-breeding" involved.
The mouse brains were more than 99 percent mouse cells, and the interloping neurons did not change the rodents' behavior. The ultimate goal of the study was to develop stem-cell treatments for neurological diseases, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
Need I say more?