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Who is Hobbie-J ? Gosh ! It is The' Cleverest Rat'

by Savitha C Muppala on  November 24, 2009 at 12:26 PM Research News   - G J E 4
 Who is Hobbie-J ? Gosh ! It is The' Cleverest Rat'
Making modififications on a single gene, scientists now boast of having brought into existence the world's cleverest rat- Hobbie-J.

Named Hobbie-J, after a Chinese cartoon character, it can remember objects almost three times longer than other rats.
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It is also much better in finding its way through mazes.

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During its embryo stage, the rat was injected with genetic material to improve the NR2B gene, which controls memory.

Scientists hope a similar technique could someday be used to augment human brainpower.

"Hobbie-J can remember information for longer. It's the equivalent of me giving you a telephone number and somehow you remembering it for an hour," the Telegraph quoted Dr Joe Z Tsien, the leader of the experiment team at the Medical College of Georgia, as saying.

The expert added: "Our study provides a solid basis for the rationale that the NR2B gene is critical to enhancing memory. That gene could be used for memory-enhancing drugs."

Dementia organisations in Britain have welcomed the new research.

"This research involving rats may lead to new ways to reduce the risk of developing diseases like Alzheimer's or to ameliorate dementia symptoms," Andrew Scheuber from the Alzheimer's Research Trust said.

He added: "A treatment involving NR2B may have the potential to slow the deterioration that takes place in dementia patients, but it is too soon to tell."

However, Dr John Hardy, professor of neuroscience at University College London, had a different take.

He said the study would not be of much use to Alzheimer's patients because they suffered from dying brain cells, not ineffective ones.

Source: ANI
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