"Mighty Mouse" Lives: Scientists Develop Fearless Mouse
Researchers have found that by knocking out a gene in the brain, they can create a mouse that is not bothered by situations that would ordinarily trigger instinctive or learned fear responses.
Akinso: "Mighty Mouse" is not just an old TV cartoon character. Researchers have found that by knocking out a gene in the brain, they can create a mouse that is not bothered by situations that would ordinarily trigger instinctive or learned fear responses — hence a living, breathing "Mighty Mouse". According to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, a gene in the mouse brain encoding a protein called "stathmin" appears to be critical in forming fear memories. Dr. Vadim Bolshakov, a grantee of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and NIDA at Harvard University, says that stathmin knockout mice can be used as a model of anxiety states and other mental disorders with innate and learned fear components.
Bolshakov: This study could lead to development of new treatments for anxiety disorders.
Akinso: Researchers say this study and others suggest that subclasses of anxiety disorders will ultimately emerge. This new information will help in the search to discover causes of anxiety in the human brain. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Maryland.