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Genetically altered mouse turns 4

Yoda, left, is shown with his companion, Princess Leia. Yoda, a genetically modified mouse that the school says is the oldest of its kind, has turned four.Richard A. Miller / U. of Michigan Medical School via AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A dwarf mouse named Yoda is giving researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School reason to kick up their heels.

Yoda is a genetically modified mouse, and he’s just celebrated his fourth birthday -- making him the oldest mouse of his kind. Most of his peers live just over two years.

One researcher says Yoda is still mobile, sexually active, and “looking good.” Not bad for a creature who’s the human equivalent of 136 years old.

Yoda’s genetic modifications affected his pituitary and thyroid glands and reduced insulin production -- which left him much smaller than an average mouse and very sensitive to cold.

Researchers are working to determine how altered hormone levels can slow the aging process and if any methods could eventually be applied to humans.