No? Wuss. These mice are genetically engineered with firefly juice to have livers that glow when CRTC2, also known as the fasting switch, is turned on. It all gets very techy but here’s what you need to know:
Our bodies run on fat & sugar (glucose). When we eat, we have a rise in our blood sugar. When we aren’t eating (like when we are sleeping or starving), our bodies primarily burn fat as fuel. All well and good except that the hothouses that sit on our shoulders (our brains) require a measure of glucose to function. It’s the reason that you feel all foggy and confused when you are carb depleted. So when you aren’t eating and your brain needs glucose, a little switch in your liver (CRTC2) starts pumping out the glucose stored in your liver. Hurray for the little Star Wars dude in your gut!
The problem arises (and the mice with the glowing livers get involved) when CRTC2 gets activated and, like a 12-year-old with a cell phone, won’t shut up – causing excess amounts of glucose to be constantly circulating in your blood (known as high blood sugar). How does this happen? Insulin resistance. Primarily from overeating and obesity. From insulin resistance comes the dreaded diabetes and the host of ills that comes with it.
The mice with the glowing livers were not just for the researcher’s entertainment (although, admit it, you really want to see one now). The researchers fattened up a bunch of firefly-mice and then waited until their livers lit up like your check-0il light. When their livers turned on it meant that the switch was no longer functioning and sugar was being pumped out 24-7. This allowed the researchers to identify exactly how & when the switch gets permanently stuck in the on position.
Where They Went Wrong
The researchers concluded by saying “What I really would like to do is to use the glowing mice to screen for drugs that decrease gluconeogenesis.” They finally discover the pathway that leads to insulin resistance and their first reaction is to create a DRUG to interfere with it??
What We Should Take Away From This Study
1. If you overeat and stay overweight long enough, then your body chemistry becomes altered. You are no longer functioning the way you are supposed to. This insulin resistance is a vicious cycle leading to health problems to increased resistance to more health problems and so on.
2. It is better to keep your CRTC2 in good working order by eating right and exercising – known cures to lifestyle-induced insulin resistance.
3. If you do make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up for it – just get back on track because your health is so worth it. Plus, if you screw up, then scientists might mate you with a firefly and we all know what happens then. (??)
4. Can you believe they crossed a FIREFLY with a MOUSE and the mouse has internal organs that GLOW??? That’s really the reason I had to write up this study. How freakin’ cool is that?