I wake up scheming

Researchers find new ways to make mice worry

While there are a lot of things that could make the common house mouse into an even more obnoxious pest (in fact, my mind reels at the possibilities: heat vision, laser claws, even just breeding them to be ten times their natural size), an exciting new method has just been discovered by Shahin Raffi of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Raffi and his team have uncovered a gene (slitrkp5) which, when turned off, can turn your happy-go-lucky house mouse into a nervous wreck, exhibiting the repetitive grooming behaviors of a human with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).  The mice not only behave like humans with OCD, they even demonstrate similar brain activity.

This new model of OCD has exciting implications for researchers trying to better understand the neuroscience underlying the disorder.  It could even help researchers develop genetic treatments.  More importantly, though, are the implications for people who are trying to overrun the world with especially annoying rodents.

Imagine, if you will, a world overrun not just with house mice, but pathologically anxious house mice.  They’d repeatedly chew through the wires of your favorite appliances and steal your cashews because they don’t know when to stop annoying you!  And they’d be too cautious to eat the cheese from a mousetrap without first repeatedly checking that the cheese is safe!  They would be infuriating!  I hate to sound cliché, but…

Bwa ha ha ha ha!

So this is my newest scheme: breed an army of house mice missing the slitrkp5 gene and introduce them into households worldwide.  Brilliant, right?

Unfortunately, Rafii’s mice don’t seem to demonstrate the symptoms necessary for this scheme to be really annoying.  In fact, his mice seem more reclusive and self-destructive than normal mice.  But surely an evil genius like myself can find some way to make use of an enormous population of timorous, shivering pests.