Dirty Mice Better for Testing than Laboratory Mice

June 7, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. substitute / ˈsʌb stɪˌtut  / (n.) – something used to take the place of another
Example: Some people use soy as a substitute for meat.

2. compatible / kəmˈpæt ə bəl / (adj.) – having characteristics that match
Example: The donor’s heart is compatible with the patient’s body.

3. reflective / rɪˈflɛk tɪv / (adj.) – describing something that shows what something else can be like
Example: Most scientific studies are not very reflective of real life because the situations in experiments are highly controlled.

4. fervent / ˈfɜr vənt  / (adj.) – very enthusiastic and passionate about something
Example: She is a fervent supporter of environmental causes.

5. brand / brænd / (v.) – to call something a certain name, usually with a negative intent
Example: The doctor’s carelessness was branded a crime.


Read the text below.
New studies suggest that “dirty” mice may be better for animal testing than laboratory mice.

Laboratory mice are commonly used as substitutes for humans in many studies such as immunology studies, which test the body’s immunity to diseases. This is because their genes are 95% compatible to humans and their immune system is similar to ours.

However, a study published in Nature found that laboratory mice may not be appropriate substitutes for humans because they grew up in an environment practically free from disease-causing microbes, making their immune system untrained to fight common diseases. David Masopust, the study’s co-author, said that the immune system of laboratory mice can be compared to that of a human infant.

The study suggests that dirty mice—like wild mice and those from pet stores—may be better for immunology studies because, just like humans, they have been exposed to plenty of disease-causing microbes from birth. The Nature study’s findings are complemented by a second study published in Cell Host & Microbe, which suggests that infecting laboratory mice with different viruses can make their immune system more similar to those of humans and dirty mice.

The studies’ findings are important in making immunology studies more reflective of actual human experience. However, using animal substitutes in scientific studies is still widely criticized by animal rights advocates.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is one of the most ferventcampaigners against the use of mice, as well as other animals, in scientific experiments. PETA regards animal testing as an unreliable and unnecessary science, and is campaigning to end what they brand as cruelty to animals.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you agree with the use of animals in scientific studies? Why or why not?
·         What rules or behaviors should scientists observe, should they use animals in their experiments?

Discussion B

·         What do you think are possible alternatives to animal testing?
·         How can the government protect animals from being abused in scientific experiments?

June 7, 2016