Photo Credit: Jessica Rinaldi for The New York Times
By GINA KOLATA, JUNE 10, 2013
BOSTON — Here at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a black mouse lies on a miniature exam table, his tail dangling off the end. A plastic tube carries anesthetic to his nose and mouth. He is asleep.
Before he was born, the mouse was injected with two mutated genes often found in human prostate cancer. As he lies on the table, a technician is measuring his two-millimeter prostate tumor with a petite ultrasound machine — the very exam a man would undergo, only on a dollhouse scale.
“There’s the tumor,” says the technician, Bhavik Padmani, sliding a probe over the mouse as a bright white amoebalike shape comes into view.
The animal is in what is called a “mouse hospital,” a new way of using mice to study cancer. Although mice have been studied in regular labs for years, the results often have been disappointing. Usually, the cancers were implanted under their skin, not in the organs where they originated. And drugs that seemed to work in mice often proved useless in humans.