Livin' on the MDedge

If you give a mouse a genetically engineered bitcoin wallet


The world’s most valuable mouse

You’ve heard of Mighty Mouse. Now say hello to the world’s newest mouse superhero, Crypto-Mouse! After being bitten by a radioactive cryptocurrency investor, Crypto-Mouse can tap directly into the power of the blockchain itself, allowing it to perform incredible, death-defying feats of strength!

We’re going to stop right there before Crypto-Mouse gains entry into the Marvel cinematic universe. Let’s rewind to the beginning, because that’s precisely where this crazy scheme is at. In late January, a new decentralized autonomous organization, BitMouseDAO, launched to enormous … -ly little fanfare, according to Vice. Two investors as of Jan. 31. But what they lack in money they make up for in sheer ambition.

Illustration of a mouse coin bank Clker-Free-Vector-Images/Pixabay

BitMouseDAO’s $100 million dollar idea is to genetically engineer mice to carry bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency and one of the most valuable. This isn’t as crazy an idea as it sounds since DNA can be modified to store information, potentially even bitcoin information. Their plan is to create a private bitcoin wallet, which will be stored in the mouse DNA, and purchase online bitcoin to store in this wallet.

BitMouseDAO, being a “collection of artists,” plans to partner with a lab to translate its private key into a specific DNA sequence to be encoded into the mice during fertilization; or, if that doesn’t work, inject them with a harmless virus that carries the key.

Since these are artists, their ultimate plan is to use their bitcoin mice to make NFTs (scratch that off your cryptocurrency bingo card) and auction them off to people. Or, as Vice put it, BitMouseDAO essentially plans to send preserved dead mice to people. Artistic dead mice! Artistic dead mice worth millions! Maybe. Even BitMouseDAO admits bitcoin could be worthless by the time the project gets off the ground.

If this all sounds completely insane, that’s because it is. But it also sounds crazy enough to work. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’re off to write a screenplay about a scrappy group of high-tech thieves who steal a group of genetically altered bitcoin mice to sell for millions, only to keep them as their adorable pets. Trust us Hollywood, it’ll make millions!

Alcoholic monkeys vs. the future of feces

Which is more important, the journey or the destination? Science is all about the destination, yes? Solving the problem, saving a life, expanding horizons. That’s science. Or is it? The scientific method is a process, so does that make it a journey?

Vervet monkeys on a tree branch Amandad/Pixabay

For us, today’s journey begins at the University of Iowa, where investigators are trying to reduce alcohol consumption. A worthy goal, and they seem to have made some progress by targeting a liver hormone called fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21). But we’re more interested in the process right now, so bring on the alcoholic monkeys. And no, that’s not a death metal/reggae fusion band. Should be, though.

“The vervet monkey population is [composed] of alcohol avoiders, moderate alcohol drinkers, and a group of heavy drinkers,” Matthew Potthoff, PhD, and associates wrote in Cell Metabolism. When this particular bunch of heavy-drinking vervets were given FGF21, they consumed 50% less alcohol than did vehicle-treated controls, so mission accomplished.

Maybe it could be a breakfast cereal. Who wouldn’t enjoy a bowl of alcoholic monkeys in the morning?

And after breakfast, you might be ready for a digitized bowel movement, courtesy of researchers at University of California, San Diego. They’re studying ulcerative colitis (UC) by examining the gut microbiome, and their “most useful biological sample is patient stool,” according to a written statement from the university.

“Once we had all the technology to digitize the stool, the question was, is this going to tell us what’s happening in these patients? The answer turned out to be yes,” co-senior author Rob Knight, PhD, said in the statement. “Digitizing fecal material is the future.” The road to UC treatment, in other words, is paved with digital stool.

About 40% of the UC patients had elevated protease levels, and their high-protease feces were then transplanted into germ-free mice, which subsequently developed colitis and were successfully treated with protease inhibitors. And that is our final destination.

As our revered founder and mentor, Josephine Lotmevich, used to say, an alcoholic monkey in the hand is worth a number 2 in the bush.


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