News of the WeekANIMAL TESTING

One Mouse's Meat Is Another One's Poison

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Science  20 Aug 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5431, pp. 1190-1191
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5431.1190b

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Just as government labs are gearing up for a major campaign to ferret out industrial chemicals and pollutants that mimic sex hormones, scientists have discovered that some of their favorite test subjects--lab mice--vary greatly from strain to strain in their sensitivity to the hormone estrogen. According to a report on page 1259, estrogen injected into young male mice sharply curtails testis growth and sperm production in some strains, while leaving a widely used lab strain essentially unperturbed. The findings raise concern about whether current animal tests adequately gauge the human health risks that hormone mimics may pose.