Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Ballad Of The Little Blue Lab Rat... Neccessary Evil? ... Or Just Plain Torture?

This Little Guy (or Girl?) Just Breaks My Heart. From University of Rochester Med Ctr.: After Suffering Intentional Spinal Cord Injuries, Rats injected with BBG not only regained their mobility but temporarily turned blue...
And... then What? They Were Thrown Out? Composted? Fed to other still-needed lab animals?

Initially, when the first murmurings of this story were trotted out, it sounded Terrific!

What was that?!... The Blue Dye found in drinks like Gatorade, when injected into the damaged spines of lab rats immediately after they were injured, resulted in them being mobile again... albeit with a limp?

Oh my Gd!... It's a Miracle!... The Cure for spinal cord injuries has finally been discovered!... albeit, in a bottle of Gatorade. (smirk.)

And, it only took mauling a few dozen lab rats' little spines and then immediately injecting the blue stuff (BBG) into the injured area.

When do the Human Trials Start? (No, I'm not volunteering.)

What?... You're kidding, right?

What do you mean, "...this method would not be practical for use with spinal cord-injured (human) patients"?

Of course, no one would "... want to put a needle into a spinal cord that has just been severely injured". But, how about intravenously?...

Oh, the compound that you used, the oxidized ATP, "... cannot be injected into the bloodstream because of its dangerous side effects."

Well, then... I have only one question.

You say that the research team isn't calling BBG a cure for spinal injuries, that, "... instead it offers a potential improvement in patients."... That's all well and good...

But, if you can't/won't inject it into the spines of humans who have just been injured (like you could/did to the rats)... and you can't introduce BBG intravenously, either...

Then, why the F*%$ did you do it to the rats?!

Just for fun?... Just to see if they turned Blue? (they did. See above pic.)

What was the freaking point? Please Explain it to me.
You may read the whole story in the article at

But, my op-ed piece is a good synopsis.


Peace.... Especially for the Lab Animals of the World.



  1. First off, the dye, Brilliant Blue G, isn't used as a food coloring. That's piss-poor science reporting on CNN's part, and not your fault. It's similar to, but not identical to, Brilliant Blue FCF, which *is* used as a food dye (though less now than it used to be).

    Secondly, it's not a cure for paralysis from a spinal cord injury. Even CNN didn't say that. What it does is reduce secondary damage to the spinal cord.

    They tested this on the rats because science isn't a one step process. You don't run a single experiment and instantly get a cure, or even a mitigating treatment such as this. What this represents is a step in the right direction, with the possibility that one day there *will* be an intravenous treatment that will help lessen the extent of a spinal injury if administered just after it's happened.

    There are plenty of reasons to do this, and the fact it turned the rats blue isn't one of them.

    So no, your op-ed piece wasn't really a good summary of the actual study, just like CNN's article wasn't that great of a report on the study. The University of Rochester's press release page offers a better insight into what's going on (just Google for "University of Rochester BBG"), but likely still leaves a whole lot of useful details out that the original paper published from this study had.

    As for what happens to the rats afterwards, that depends. It's possible they will be used for further testing, or if not they will be humanely killed.

    As easy as it is to get angry over what seems like pointless animal testing, the whole purpose is to better the human race. These animals offer useful test beds that would otherwise require we test these things on prisoners, orphans, or some other portion of society that it doesn't matter if we happen to cripple or kill in the process.

    It's not like they aren't attempting to minimize the suffering of these lab rats anyway. They're not just grabbing them and snapping their necks to induce paralyzation.

  2. Hello Scott!
    I really appreciate your taking the time to leave such a detailed comment/response.
    I admit that, when I wrote the blog about the blue lab rat, I was still kind of caught up in the emotional response to what I'd seen.
    I'm going to work on that... being less emotional and more objective.
    Thanks Again!


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