A whopping 39 researchers representing dozens of schools (including Stanford, Harvard, and the University of Florida) have found genetic evidence that mice aren't anything like people in some important cases. The science community shouldn't necessarily be shocked by the finding; we've been aware for awhile that mice may not be a precise analogue for humans. What makes this study interesting is that the doctors have studied specific diseases to find out exactly how widely the genetic response diverges between mice and men.
This study was birthed out of rejection. The researchers' original work focused on human white blood cells' genetic response to life threatening traumas. But when an undisclosed journal demanded they verify the findings in mice, the researchers started wondering if that would actually prove anything. So they began to dig deeper, and the study became more about mice than the original study. The researchers published this study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this month.
The scientists analyzed a decade of research from trauma centers. They looked to lab data for mouse genes changes after severe burns, blunt trauma, or sepsis. Of particular interest was which genes cells turned on after burns, trauma like car accidents, and sepsis. Sepsis is an overreaction by the immune system to microbes or human proteins--it's almost like the body self-destructs, causing a cascade of responses that ends with a rapid and severe drop in blood pressure that can lead to organ failure.