by Andre on 3 March 2006
On the Nature website today “Surprise organ discovered in mice.” That’s right, even in well studied lab animals like mice, it seems that it’s still possible to discover an entire new organ: German researchers at the University of Ulm claim to have found a second thymus! To put it mildly:
The discovery raises questions about some immunology studies in mice. Researchers interested in the immune system often slice out the main thymus of mice in order to study how this system works without it, and how T cells are produced in the gut and skin.
I’m glad I’ve never done any of those experiments. Imagine speculating wildly in one of your papers on how mice could possibly be producing so many T cells without a functioning thymus only to find that they probably had a function (albeit smaller) thymus after all. If you’re trying to finish your PhD right now based on one of these experiments, my thoughts are with you. At least the write up will be easier… Chapter 1: The thymus did it.