Laboratory rodent inbreeding?

Ken Kinman kinman2 at YAHOO.COM
Tue Apr 25 22:55:50 CDT 2006

Dear All,
      In the news is a study which seems to show that aspartame probably isn't nearly as harmful to humans as it is in laboratory rats.  This brings up the problem of inbreeding in laboratory rats and mice which are commonly used to test such substances and then extrapolated to possible detrimental effects upon humans.  I am not generally challenging the use of rodents in medical research, but specifically our dependence on highly domesticated lineages of rodents.  Phylogenetically, rodents make more sense than using carnivores (like dogs or cats).  But still, has the genetic homogenization of laboratory rodents gone too far and compromised their usefulness in such studies?
     ----Ken Kinman
P.S.  Disclaimer.  This is not in any way an endorsement of the use of aspartame or other artificial sweetners.  I still figure the consumption of natural sugars in moderation is probably the healthiest alternative.  :-)

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