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Researchers created unusually intelligent mice by altering a single gene that made the mice less likely to feel anxiety or recall fear.

Stashed in: Science!, Risk!, Fear, Awesome, science, Singularity!, Intelligence, Alzheimer's, Biotechnology, Anxiety, Biotech!, Memory!, Accelerating Returns, PTSD, CRISPR, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mental Health, Schizophrenia

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“Brainy” mice raise hope of better treatments for cognitive disorders.

They tended to learn faster, remember events longer and solve complex exercises better than ordinary mice.

Here is the peer-reviewed journal entry:

Interesting article from my alma mater, the University of Toronto. Yet, again the idea of cautious and healthy empirical skepticism should arise. The idea of single gene manipulation producing remarkable cognitive enhancement in mice without taking into consideration neural networks and gene interaction should be viewed with caution. Needless to say the translation of such findings to "bedside" therapeutic approaches. 

Novel cancer and neurology findings tend to always raise my HyperAlert hormonal levels--however, always advocating for the power of science

First we seek understanding: How does this work and why?

Then we seek applications: What good can come from this?

With CRISPR it seems like the whole field of gene manipulation has opened up:

Well said, Adam. 

CRISPR is exciting--I am working with it myself to generate powerful genetically modified immune cells to fight cancer. I find it easier to manipulate cell populations of interest for therapeutic use rather than manipulating genes at the organ level. 

The more we understand, the more precise our approach in improving clinical value

That's cool! How do you work with CRISPR? In software?

CRISPR is a biological system derived from bacteria--it is used for gene editing ( adding or removing specific genetic sequences). I work with it to knock down inhibitory proteins on the surface of immune cells to make them more potent in fighting tumors. Since we know the location of the gene encoding the inhibitory protein receptor, we can generate so many variants and compare their relative level of antitumor killing. I even get ecstatic about it just describing it to you! Hahaaa

That sounds very exciting to me too -- and I'm just a layman who is enthusiastic about the possibilities!

Trust me, Adam. You have taught a lot of people, including me, more than enough. And yes, I am also part of a biotech venture in the space to leverage CRISPR technology in generating the next generation of targeted super immune killers--basically a cheap, safe, commercial grade cellular therapy akin to a drug in a vial. 

Well that sounds wonderful, Hashem! There are not enough hours in the day...

Extraordinary finding, which might be applicable to humans too:

The study, led by the University of Leeds and Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, is published today in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology. 

It sheds light on the molecular underpinnings of learning and memory and could form the basis for research into new treatments for age-related cognitive decline, cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia, and other conditions.

The researchers altered a gene in mice to inhibit the activity of an enzyme called phosphodiesterase-4B (PDE4B), which is present in many organs of the vertebrate body, including the brain.

In behavioural tests, the PDE4B-inhibited mice showed enhanced cognitive abilities.

They tended to learn faster, remember events longer and solve complex exercises better than ordinary mice.

For example, the “brainy mice” showed a better ability than ordinary mice to recognise another mouse that they had been introduced to the day before. They were also quicker at learning the location of a hidden escape platform in a test called the Morris water maze.

However, the PDE4B-inhibited mice also showed less recall of a fearful event after several days than ordinary mice.

The published findings are limited to mice and have not been tested in humans, but PDE4B is present in humans. The diminished memory of fear among mice with inhibited PDE4B could be of interest to researchers looking for treatments for pathological fear, typified by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The PDE4B-inhibited mice also showed less anxiety. They spent more time in open, brightly-lit spaces than ordinary mice, which preferred dark, enclosed spaces.

Top Reddit comment:

In the long term, the most exciting part of this research is that we may some day genetically engineer human beings to be more intelligent. Whether such a thing is morally acceptable can no doubt be debated, but I think that if it could be done safely and effectively, a lot of people would be happy to arrange for their children to be unusually intelligent. Of course, this is a very early stage in such research. There are lots of things we can do for mice that we do not yet know how to do for people. Still, it is a significant first step.

Hyperintelligent Mice that Give Zero Fucks? You think this is a GOOD thing??!

I think you're being a little bit negative. 

Perhaps the mice can show us the way to Post Traumatic Stress treatments. 

In this thread: a panda, a halibut, and two killer whales discuss hyperintelligent mice.

I love the Internet!!


Slightly scary when you get into brain alteration but perhaps not that much different from pharmaceuticals that target brain functioning.

Same philosophy as pharmaceuticals in that we're changing what naturally exists. 

But far more customizable and targetable than pharmaceuticals.

Better living through biotech instead of chemistry. 

Maybe there's something to the "fear reduction" -> "smarts raising" equation.

Since most fear is irrational ( speaking in public is NOT the same as walking into a cave with a hungry sabertooth ) what can we achieve by ameliorating that irrationality??

I'll vote for vulnerable communications, questioning of commonly held ( and generally erroneous) beliefs, and yes a treatment for PTSD would be awesome.

It makes sense that freeing up the energy and time consumed by anxiety would give the brain more resources to become smarter, recovery from PTS, and make more connections. 

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