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Last Updated: Monday February 21 2011 12:20 GMT

Scientists breed stuttering mice to try to develop cure

A mouse

Scientists are trying to breed mice with a squeak defect to learn more about stuttering in humans.

If they succeed, they think their findings could lead to the development of new drugs to help treat people with the speech problem.

Around 1% of the population stutters and struggles to avoid words and phrases that cause them embarrassment.

Young children are among the worst affected, although many recover normal speech as they get older.

In the past, it was thought that stuttering was connected to nervousness, but now scientists say they've identified a genetic cause.

They say they've identified changes in three genes that seem to be linked to stuttering, and it's those genes that they want to breed the mice with in the hope of finding a cure for stutterers.