Most lab mice are kept in pristine conditions, but a few immunologists think a dose of dirt could make them a better model of human disease.
On an unseasonably warm February morning, Mark Pierson takes a 20-minute drive to one of Minneapolis’s larger pet shops. Pierson, a researcher in an immunology laboratory at the University of Minnesota, often comes here to buy mice, so most of the staff know him. Today he asks for ten, and an employee fishes them out of a glass box. Pierson requests the smaller mice because they’re typically younger, but he isn’t too picky. They probably all have what he wants: germs.
These mice are about to enter one of the most tightly controlled labs in the country, a facility normally reserved for studying dangerous pathogens such as tuberculosis and chikungunya virus. The rodents probably don’t carry serious human infections, but they do harbour diseases that pose a grave threat to the hundreds of other research mice in the building.
Read more at: Nature