When I was in grade school, one of the many reading assignments given to students included a book titled Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.1
The novel relates the plight of a widowed field mouse, Mrs. Frisby, whose family must travel every year to a summer home to avoid being mowed by the farmer who owns the land she and her family live on. When Mrs. Frisby's son, Timothy, becomes ill, Mrs. Frisby must venture for help. [...snip...] ...from a nest of rats which lives nearby under a rose bush.
She discovers that the nest is a community of long-lived, super-intelligent rats, [...snip...]
The rats had been captured and experimented upon by people from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
Part of the series of experiments at NIMH involved an acceleration of their intelligence. They were able to learn to read, write, and operate complicated machines. Their new intelligence was much more developed than their captors realised, because they were able to escape from the NIMH laboratories and migrate to their present location. She learns, too, that her husband had been part of a group of mice who had been at NIMH with the rats...
It was an interesting book, and the tale has been popularized through reprintings and made into a movie. Although the technology for breeding "super-" anything has been dreamt of for years,2 but it wasn't one I gave much additional thought to until I ran across a curious article just the other day...