Antibody injections prevent HIV infection in animal model | Study: Nonhuman primates may be involved in Zika transmission | Research uncovers genetic link to obesity in Labradors, flat-coated retrievers
May 4, 2016
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Antibody injections prevent HIV infection in animal model
Just one dose of HIV antibody infusions prevented infection in monkeys, according to research published in Nature. All animals exposed to a chimeric virus that blended portions of HIV and the monkey equivalent SIV eventually became infected, but the protective effect of antibodies lasted 12 to 23 weeks during which animals were repeatedly exposed, compared with two to six weeks in unprotected animals. The findings could ultimately lead to an alternative to pre-exposure prophylaxis, which must be taken daily to provide protection.
Nature (free content) (4/27) 
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Research Breakthroughs
Study: Nonhuman primates may be involved in Zika transmission
Scientists who collected biological samples from 15 wild marmosets and eight pet capuchin monkeys plus one free-ranging capuchin in Brazil found four marmosets and three capuchins had been infected with the Zika virus. Vincent Racaniello of Columbia University wrote in a blog post that scientists have thought Zika was mostly passing between humans via mosquito bites, but "the results of this new study [suggest] that nonhuman primates could also be involved."
The Scientist online (4/28) 
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Research uncovers genetic link to obesity in Labradors, flat-coated retrievers
Labrador retriever.
(Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)
Cambridge University researchers who studied the canine genome found a mutation in the POMC gene was associated with weight gain in Labradors and flat-coated retrievers. The findings did not apply to other breeds. The data, published in Cell Metabolism, may shed light on obesity in people, as POMC is one of numerous genes linked to human obesity, and in some cases a similar mutation to the sequence deletion seen in dogs has been documented.
BBC (5/3),  Gizmodo (5/3) 
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Chemical compound transforms skin cells to repair heart damage
Scientists used a chemical compound to alter human skin cells so they resembled heart cells, which functioned normally when implanted into damaged mouse hearts, according to research published in Science. With the technique, described as simpler and more practical than previously studied methods, patients could one day receive their own cells turned into functional heart cells that would allow repair of the damage wrought by a heart attack.
ABC News (4/28) 
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Researchers report fertility and contraception advances
Giving mice past prime fertility age and those exposed to chemotherapy a compound that helps activate the protein sirtuin increased fertility in the infertile mice and protected eggs from chemotherapy, according to research presented at the Australian Biology of Ageing Conference. The goal is to help women just past optimal childbearing age and those who need chemotherapy. Meanwhile, another study found protein-coated polymer beads implanted in mice uteruses attract sperm, functioning as reversible contraception, but the concept could also be adapted to promote fertilization. Those findings were reported in Science Translational Medicine.
Stuff (New Zealand) (5/3),  The Verge (4/27) 
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Human influenza viruses undergo significant changes in swine
Pig.
(Joern Pollex/Getty Images)
A study that analyzed antigen diversity from close to 600 influenza viruses collected from multiple continents over the last century found human influenza viruses undergo significant antigenic change in swine, and those viruses are likely transmissible back to people. Such modified pathogens could be a potent threat to humans, but the findings, published in eLife, could inform vaccine development and help scientists design surveillance plans, particularly where human and swine populations intersect.
Medical News Today (5/3) 
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Lizard sleep patterns prompt rethinking of evolutionary origin of human sleep
Researchers who studied lizards' sleep patterns report that the cycles of sleep they observed in bearded dragons are similar to those previously seen only in mammals and birds. Although cycles seen in the reptiles were only 80 seconds, compared with an hour in humans, there was evidence of REM-type sleep and electrical bursts during slow-wave sleep that could correspond to the memory playback that occurs in mammals. The findings suggest this type of sleep has a common evolutionary origin among the extant animals that share the pattern.
The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (4/28) 
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Animal Health
Farmed salmon have ear malformations
Farm-raised salmon have deformed bones in at least one ear, according to a paper published in the journal Scientific Reports. If that trait entered the wild salmon population, it could affect their ability to find food, navigate and avoid predators, although researcher Allison Coffin said salmon are not known for having very good hearing. Normal otoliths in salmon are made of aragonite, but the deformed otoliths consisted mostly of vaterite, an irregular and less dense material.
Newsweek (4/28) 
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