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Imagine two mice racing through a maze to find a block of cheese. One mouse pauses along the way to scribble calculations of the most direct route to the cheese on a tiny notepad. He tucks the notepad under his front right leg and continues on to win the race and the cheese. This may sound bizarre, but through transgenic technology, scientists have discovered a way to add human intelligence to the genetic makeup of mice.

What are Transgenic Mice?

Transgenic mice are mice who have had modifications made to their DNA. All organisms, including mice have DNA. DNA causes an organism to show certain traits such as eye color, fur color or resistance to certain diseases. When a scientist creates a transgenic mouse, it means that the scientist added DNA from another organism to the mouse's DNA to cause some sort of change to its body's natural makeup.

Examples of Transgenic Mice?

Most of the time, scientists create transgenic mice in attempt to find cures for human diseases. For example, one transgenic mouse was engineered to carry Alzheimer's disease. This same mouse was then implanted with human brain cells that were grown in a laboratory. The result was twofold. Not only was the transgenic mouse cured of Alzheimer's disease, but it also showed signs of intelligence similar to that of a human.
Fluorescent green mice are a unique example of transgenic mice. Scientists added the DNA of jellyfish and fireflies to create brightly colored, illuminant transgenic mice. The vivid color and glowing fire-fly effect actually help scientists learn about stem cell treatments without having to perform invasive operations on the mice. Through a special machine, scientists can see key parts of these transgenic mice light up as changes caused by stem cell treatments occur in their bodies.
One radical example of transgenic mice is those engineered to resist cancer. Scientists added to the DNA of these mice a cancer fighting gene that attacked cancer cells and left normal cells unharmed. The result was that these transgenic mice never got cancer, and they also passed this new cancer-resistant trait on to their offspring.