Tulane National Primate Research Center is equipped to handle research on infectious agents like the coronavirus circulating now, and director Jay Rappaport expects to receive samples and begin testing how the virus affects rhesus and African green monkeys, whose responses to coronaviruses are similar to human responses. Scientists expect to begin testing vaccine candidates in four to six months, and findings will be shared with other centers to minimize animal testing.
World Health Organization assistant director-general Bruce Aylward says remdesivir is being tested in humans for treatment of the emerging coronavirus, after the drug demonstrated promise against two related coronaviruses in animal studies. The drug is one of a number of compounds being explored for treatment of COVID-19, the infection caused by the virus, and other companies are working on vaccines to prevent infection.
Scientists at the California National Primate Research Center have developed an adult rhesus monkey model of early-stage Alzheimer's disease that could shed light on how the debilitating disease begins in people. Monkeys injected with soluble amyloid-beta protein fragments had more activated microglia cells, which can damage neurons, than control monkeys, and biomarkers in injected monkeys' cerebrospinal fluid were consistent with very early Alzheimer's in people, researchers reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
L-serine injections reduced aggregated misfolded proteins and activated microglia in the brains and spinal cords of vervet monkey models of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, researchers reported in the Journal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology, and the amino acid is now being tested in clinical trials. Meanwhile, the vervet model "will be an important new tool in the quest for new drugs to treat ALS," said study coauthor Walter Bradley, an ALS expert.
An expandable artificial heart valve tested extensively in sheep could spare children with congenital heart defects from repeated open heart surgeries to replace the valve as they grow, according to a study in Science Translational Medicine. The valve encouraged good blood flow, and no clots formed even in sheep not given anticoagulants that are typically prescribed for patients with artificial heart valves.
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology used machine learning to identify a structurally distinct antibiotic molecule called halicin that killed Clostridium difficile bacteria when tested in mice. The molecule was listed in a database as a potential treatment for diabetes, and the researchers reported in Cell that they identified eight additional antimicrobial compounds whose structures are significantly different from known antibiotics.
Glioblastoma is linked to certain genetic syndromes, but it also occurs in people with no family history of cancer and in some dog breeds, which may be central to finding a cure. A study at Johns Hopkins University involves delivering a radioactive isotope directly into canine glioblastoma and another is using heat and radiation to destroy cancer cells, while researchers at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine are injecting dogs' brain tumors with cytotoxins, and the results of all the studies could translate to human glioblastoma.
An NIH workshop on improving the rigor and reproducibility of monkey studies emphasized the importance and value of research on nonhuman primates, improving animal welfare, and optimizing study design to minimize the number of monkeys needed while generating the most accurate results. The workshop was "an excellent and robust discussion around fostering rigorous research in nonhuman primates," said FBR President Matthew R. Bailey.
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The Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) is the nation’s oldest and largest non-profit dedicated to improving human and animal health by promoting public understanding and support for biomedical research. Our mission is to educate people about the essential role animal research plays in the quest for medical advancements, treatments and cures for both people and animals.