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Researchers Create Iron Lung for Mice With Breathing Problems

April 23, 1998

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created a miniature iron lung for newborn mice who have breathing problems. Biologists Chi-Sang Poon and Kumaran Kolandaivelu use it in studies of mice genetically engineered to lack the gene for a key brain protein involved in learning and memory. Lack of the gene also makes it difficult for the mice to breathe, however.

The mice are too small to use conventional forced-air breathing. So the MIT researchers designed a small cylinder with a rubber sleeve at one end for the mouse's neck. Microscopic pistons cycle air in and out of the iron lung at 50 to 100 cycles per second, allowing researchers to keep the animals alive much longer than normal.

Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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