Thursday, February 2, 2012

Short Sharp Science - Groundhogs! Forget weather, a science career awaits

Michael Marshall, groundhog
(Image: Canadian Press/Rex Features )

2 February is Groundhog Day in the US and Canada, so all eyes are on Punxsutawney Phil and other groundhogs that supposedly predict when spring will come. Their record as weather forecasters isn't great, but groundhogs are rather better medical scientists.
Some American groundhogs (Marmota monax) suffer from a virus similar to the human hepatitis B virus, which causes liver cancer. That makes them the best animal model for this disease, and research on groundhogs has been crucial for developing vaccines and treatments.
UPDATE: Punxsutawney Phil says there will be six more weeks of winter.

No comments:

Post a Comment