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OncoMouse

In 1988, the US Patent Office awarded for the first time in history a patent for an animal to the Harvard University. The U.S. Patent Number 4736866 was for a small genetically engineered mouse, white and furry, with red beady eyes. His name was OncoMouse.

OncoMouse’s creators scientists Philip Leder and Timothy Stewart, however, had not created a better mouse. On the contrary, it was much worse. The Harvard scientists had genetically modified the mouse to make it highly susceptible to cancer, in the hope that this trait would make the mice useful test subjects for cancer research. The researchers created the mice by injecting known cancer genes into mouse embryos just after fertilization. The genetic modification not only made the mice prone to cancer, but also ensured that they would pass the cancer genes to their offspring, thus guaranteeing a continued supply of test subjects.


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