|MadSci Network: General Biology|
Good question, and there are several reasons. Mice are a popular experimental organism with geneticists because they 1) have fairly large litters, 8-10 is common for some strains, 2) are small for a mammal and easily housed 3) have a short generation time 4) are easy to work with in general. These and other considerations are covered on a great web site: http:// www.princeton.edu/~lsilver/book/MGcontents.html As mammals, mice are considered a good but imperfect surrogate for studies of human diseases and conditions; their body plan, physiology and genome share many features with our own. Traditional breeding methods have resulted in the generation of many highly inbred lines of mice which have been very useful in studies of the immune system as well as other areas. However, the ability to make genetically manipulated mice, aka "designer mice", has lead to tremendous advances in understanding the roles of individual genes in normal development as well generating animal models for testing of therapeutic strategies. Mice are also used in generating very specific antibodies, called monoclonal antibodies, which have been very valuable tools for research. Although other animals, plants and bacteria have been extremely useful in many ways, no other single experimental animal offers such a wide variety of uses to science and medicine as a mouse.
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