Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie said he will reauthorize research involving a small number of dogs that could lead to treatments for spinal cord injuries. Prior canine research led to the invention of the cardiac pacemaker and a treatment for cardiac arrhythmias, Wilkie said. "I love canines," Wilkie said. "But we have an opportunity to change the lives of men and women who have been terribly hurt. And until somebody tells me that that research does not help in that outcome, then I'll continue."
The vast majority of animals used in biomedical research are rodents, but pet dogs are prone to many of the same cancers as humans and live in similar environments, and comparative or translational oncology can lead to treatments that benefit both species, says veterinarian Kristen Weishaar, clinical trials director at Colorado State University's Flint Animal Cancer Center. Rodents are still indispensable in cancer research because "there are some things we simply can't do in dogs that you can do in mice," says veterinarian Cheryl London, a professor of comparative oncology at Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.
A technique that turns dead mice rigid and transparent has allowed scientists to study cell and organ interactions, revealing clues about how brain injuries affect the nervous and immune systems. Scientists soaked mouse carcasses in solvents to dissolve fats and pigments, then injected fluorescent nanoscale antibodies found in llamas, alpacas and camels to trace connections.
Researchers at Kyoto University in Japan have transplanted 2.4 million induced pluripotent stem cells to the left brain of a male patient in his 50s with Parkinson's disease. The patient, who will be observed for two years, was stable post-transplant and will receive another implant of 2.4 million cells to the right side of the brain if he doesn't develop complications in the next six months.
Scientists used stem cells to make a lifelike human atrium model that beats, expresses genes and responds to drugs, and it could be used for testing experimental treatments for atrial fibrillation. The scientists started developing the model over two decades ago using embryonic chicken heart cells and applied the technique to rat and mouse cells before using human cells, and they have tested patches for damaged hearts in rats and guinea pigs. The patches are now being tested in pigs, with human testing on the horizon.
Electroencephalography could be used to measure pain, develop new pain drugs and improve prescribing, according to a study in rats that was published in Scientific Reports. The ability to measure pain objectively "is crucial to the drug development process," the researchers wrote, and the technique could improve pain control in young children, animals and people who have trouble communicating, researcher Carl Saab said.
Researchers from Rice University used CRISPR-Cas9 technology to modify a baculovirus, based on a virus that affects moths, because it can carry up to eight times more DNA pairs than other viral delivery methods. In the study, baculovirus vectors are loaded with the immune system protein C3, which allows the researchers to inactivate and reactivate the virus using a magnetic field to deliver treatments precisely where they are needed.
As the southern resident killer whale population struggles to survive, the endangered mountain gorilla population in Africa is growing, and wildlife veterinarians are applying lessons learned with the gorillas to save the orcas. Veterinarians have given personalized medical care to mountain gorillas in the wild for years, creating long-term health records for individual animals, and the SeaDoc Society has been compiling health records for southern resident orcas since 2016.
The National Association for Biomedical Research recently filed an official complaint with the Department of Transportation requesting an investigation into reports of airlines refusing to transport of animals for research purposes while knowingly transporting the same species for other purposes. This practice is discriminatory and puts human health at risk, but comments opposing NABR's complaint outnumber those in support of it. Please support this effort and biomedical research by commenting before Dec. 6!
For 35 years, FBR has advanced biomedical research for the sake of both human and animal health. We can't do our job without your support. Please give what you can. Together we will continue to make a difference.
Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.
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.