Were the NOD mice really stolen from the Japanese?
May 25, 2007 7:36 PM   Subscribe

I was told a story once, about an American stealing Non-obese Diabetic (NOD) mice from a Japanese lab, and smuggling them back to the States. But I can't find the story anywhere on the web.

So the story is as follows:

In the 70s, Shionogi Research Laboratories in Japan developed the NOD strain of mice. But the Japanese didn't want anybody else to have them. So an American scientist actually stole a breeding pair and smuggled them into the US (in the early 80s, I think). The mice apparently spent the journey in his top pocket. Once in the States, the mice made there way to Jackson Laboratories, and the rest of the world finally had access to the strain. The Japanese tried to get Jackson to return the mice (or destroy the line), but were told there was no chance that would happen.

I want to believe this story (how could I not? it's a cool story), and I remember it being told with some authority (by a reputable guy who did his Post-doc in Jackson Laboratories). It's just that I can't find it anywhere on the web.

Has anybody heard this story before? Is it somewhere on the web, or in a book or journal?
posted by kisch mokusch to Grab Bag (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Ugh ...their way to Jackson Laboratories...
posted by kisch mokusch at 7:46 PM on May 25, 2007

I could ask some people I know to see if they've heard the story. It's an interesting story, and I'll be watching this thread, too.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 9:34 PM on May 25, 2007

that IS an awesome story! I also want to know the answer. I always wonder how jackson manages to carry so many animal models; this would explain a lot if they "borrowed" a couple.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 10:57 PM on May 25, 2007

Very interesting stuff. The Jackson lab's web page has this to say:
Nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice exhibit a susceptibility to spontaneous development of autoimmune (type 1) insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). The mice were first reported in 1980. Since that time the strain has been widely established around the world and used by investigators to test compounds or devices to either prevent development of diabetes or to provide therapy.

The NOD and related strains were developed at Shionogi Research Laboratories in Aburahi, Japan (Makino et al, 1985; Makino et al, 1980). The NOD/LtJ mice in the Production Colonies of The Jackson Laboratory were derived from a breeding colony in Kyoto, Japan held be Dr. M. Hattori. The strain was brought to the United States in 1984.
I'd be surprised if they openly described the mice as being "brought to the US" if they'd been stolen, but then they're not exactly saying that the mice were obtained legitimately either.

posted by Zonker at 9:56 AM on May 26, 2007

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