How biomedical researchers' innovations save lives | Scientists grow viable sperm from stem cells | Stress fuels the spread of cancer, study finds
March 2, 2016
FBR Smartbrief

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How biomedical researchers' innovations save lives
Lasker Foundation President and FBR board Chairman Dr. Claire Pomeroy has long known the value of scientific and medical advancements through a professional lens, but her perspective became personal when she was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2014. Medical imaging technology was key to her diagnosis and treatment planning, and today she is cancer-free. Lasker Foundation honorees created the very technology used to save her life, Pomeroy writes, calling ultrasound, CT and MRI "three miracles that made it possible for me to live. ... Each of these was invented by recipients of the Lasker Awards, the most prestigious award in biomedical research." (2/29)
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Research Breakthroughs
Scientists grow viable sperm from stem cells
Researchers from China have grown viable sperm cells from stem cells, according to a report in Cell Stem Cell. They exposed embryonic stem cells harvested from mice to testicular cells, testosterone, follicle stimulating hormone and growth factors, and within about two weeks, sperm cells had developed. When combined with eggs and implanted in female mice, the sperm produced offspring that could also reproduce. The findings could help couples dealing with certain types of fertility problems. (2/25)
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Stress fuels the spread of cancer, study finds
Chronic stress, the kind that leaves people feeling unable to cope, bolsters cancer cells' ability to spread, according to research published in Nature Communications. The researchers found cancer was substantially more likely to spread in mice subjected to chronic stress than those that were not stressed. Stress induces lymphatic vessel dilation and increases the flow of fluid, creating a kind of superhighway for cancer cells to migrate, the researchers said. The study also found human cancer patients taking beta blockers, used for anxiety and blood pressure, were less prone to metastasis. The Age (Melbourne, Australia) (3/2), The Scientist online (3/1)
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New drug targets gene that causes Huntington's disease
A new drug reversed the progressive, debilitating effects of Huntington's disease in two transgenic mouse models of the disease. It also reduced huntingtin protein levels in the nervous systems of monkeys. The promising results in animals have spurred human trials, which are ongoing. "It is very exciting to have the possibility of a treatment that could alter the course of this devastating disease," said researcher Blair Leavitt. The Telegraph (London) (tiered subscription model) (2/26), (2/29)
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Therapeutic approach might expose hidden HIV reservoirs
Researchers showed that antibodies blocking PD-1, a molecule that blunts the immune response to infection, exposes hidden HIV reservoirs, rendering viral particles susceptible to antiretroviral therapy. The antibody treatment caused a rapid drop in viral levels in monkeys infected with simian immunodeficiency virus. If validated in humans, the approach could "effectively diminish [the] HIV reservoir under ART as a means to establish a functional cure," the team wrote. U.S. News & World Report/HealthDay News (2/26)
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Genetic findings in dogs with compulsive disorder could help humans with OCD
Doberman pinscher.
(Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)
Researchers have uncovered three genetic loci that play a role in canine compulsive disorder, and they say their work has implications for humans with obsessive compulsive disorder. Genomic studies of Doberman pinschers found spots on chromosomes 34, 11 and 16 were associated with CCD. The site on chromosome 34 also contains genes encoding serotonin receptors, the site on chromosome 11 is associated with schizophrenia risk in humans, and the site on chromosome 16 may be associated with OCD in humans. Nature World News (2/29), (2/29)
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Compound found in insects clears fats from cells
Trehalose, a sugar produced by plants, fungi and insects, clears proteins and, new research has found, fat from cells. Previous studies showed that the sugar induced autophagy to successfully remove protein aggregates from neurons in mouse models of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease. The new study, reported in Science Signaling, found that trehalose prevented fat accumulation in liver cells of mice fed a diet that promotes nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, suggesting a possible avenue for treatment of the illness, which gastroenterologist Brian DeBosch said affects 1 billion people. Medical News Today (2/24), Chemical & Engineering News (2/24)
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Other News
Animal Health
Expert panel describes signs of pain in cats
(Patrick Pleul/AFP/Getty Images)
A group of veterinary experts published a list of 25 signs of pain in domestic cats, the first consensus statement on the topic. The group evaluated behavioral cues in cats and developed a list of 91 behaviors that could signal pain, then narrowed it down to 25. Signs of problems include absence of grooming, abnormal gait, reluctance to move, avoidance of bright areas, change in feeding behavior and jumping difficulty. The information, published in PLOS One, is expected to help owners and veterinarians. The Independent (London) (tiered subscription model) (2/27)
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FBR News
How animal testing and research is advancing treatments for type 2 diabetes
FBR has published the second article in our three-part series on diabetes. This latest blog post covers significant advances in understanding and treating type 2 diabetes. Laboratory animals are indispensable to this research. Type 2 diabetes and its related complications are an enormous problem worldwide. More than ever, new treatments are needed to help those living with type 2 diabetes. Read the latest installment, and if you've been enjoying our blog series, please make a donation to help support our efforts.
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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.
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