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August 8, 2014
Mouse Models of Inflammation: Wrong Or Not?
I wrote here about a study that suggested that mice are a poor model for human inflammation. That paper created quite a splash - many research groups had experienced problems in this area, and this work seemed to offer a compelling reason for why that should happen.
Well, let the arguing commence, because now there's another paper out (also in PNAS) that analyzes the same data set and comes to the opposite conclusion. The authors of this new paper are specifically looking at the genes whose expression changed the most in both mice and humans, and they report a very high correlation. (The previous paper looked at the mouse homologs of human genes, among other things).
I'm not enough of a genomics person to say immediately who's correct here. Could they both be right: most gene and pathway changes are different in human and mouse inflammation, but the ones that change the most are mostly the same? But there's something a bit weird in this new paper: the authors report P values that are so vanishingly small that I have trouble believing them. How about ten to the minus thirty-fifth? Have you ever in your life heard of such a thing? In whole-animal biology, yet? That alone makes me wonder what's going on. Seeing a P-value the size of Planck's constant just seems wrong, somehow.
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