Add one more tragic loss in the wake of Hurricane Sandy's furious punch at Manhattan. Flooding drowned thousands of genetically tailored lab mice in a New York University research center at 1st and 30th Street, ruining years of research that will now have to be painstakingly reconstructed.
"The combined tide and wind resulted in extensive flooding in the building, and unfortunately, my mouse colonies were wiped out," Gordon J. Fishell, associate director of the N.Y.U. Neuroscience Institute, tells The New York Times. "These animals were the culmination of 10 years of work, and it will take time to replace them."
The NYU investigators were engaged in a wide range of studies involving cancer, epigenetics, mental ailments and cardiovascular conditions. Far from your average rodent, these mice are bred to carry the same genetic traits that trigger disease, making them a more ideal animal model for drug investigators.
"Animal resource staff was on site continuously to mitigate the damage from the storm, but due to the speed and force of the surge, animal rescue attempts were unsuccessful," noted the NYU Langone Medical Center in a statement.
"It's really, really devastating," medical physicist Jacco van Rheenen tells LiveScience. "Some mice are unique, they're just made for certain research," he said. "So if [the researchers] didn't send it out to other labs, that line is just lost."