Never in a million years would I have predicted that Rett Syndrome is a reversible disorder. Edda’s brain is so screwed up, you’ve got the all over weird brain waves, you’ve got some signal that constantly says, “hand – in mouth” instead of “hand – useful for picking up things like forks”, you’ve got weak signals going to your legs so they aren’t too sure what you want to do so they end up wandering around and bumping you into things.
But apparently once the MECP2 is functional again, mice who were about to die from the various symptoms of Rett are walking around, doing their mousy things a few weeks after gaining MECP2 functionality.
I wonder what they are thinking. Do they remember what was happening around them when they couldn’t walk or use their front paws to pick up that delicious piece of Cheddar cheese? (Gosh darn it, why don’t these paws work?) Who knows, maybe they thought it was all a bad dream. Or maybe mice don’t even think about their mousy existence, they just think, hey, I can reach out and grab that bit of cheese, hooray for me!
Go, mouse, go! (For Christmas, Katherine sponsored a research mouse for Edda.)
Long ago, when I was a research graduate student, I remember standing in the middle of my lab in front of some experiments and thinking that absolutely no “regular folks” would care about the results. It was a pretty depressing thought and one that I grappled with almost every day that I was in graduate school. A lot of graduate students stay up many nights and get great results and in the end about 25 people in the world (usually other nerdy scientists) would care enough to come to your talk. It was one of the reasons I couldn’t be a pure research scientist at a university (and the fact that it would have been completely stressful and exhausting). But look, a graduate student stayed up late and worked in his lab – hidden away in the ivory tower – and a lot of “regular folks” care and are paying attention. Hooray for science and thank you to Jacky Guy – first author and super duper graduate student!
Scientific name: Bismarckia mobilis
Common name: Bismark palm