A mutation in the SFTPC gene causes such severe lung dysfunction that most children with the mutation die shortly after birth, but a proof-of-concept study published in Science Translational Medicine suggests in utero genetic editing could correct the mutation. Scientists injected a CRISPR-edited gene into the amniotic fluid of mice and successfully inactivated the gene in 20% of them.
The federal Animal Welfare Act sets strict criteria for how animals used in research are housed, fed and transported, and the NIH, FDA and CDC have even stricter rules for federally funded research, writes FBR President Matthew R. Bailey. Efforts to block funding for crucial biomedical research won't protect animals, but if successful, they will impede progress toward treatments that improve the lives of people as well as their pets, Bailey writes.
Scientists are using CRISPR gene editing to study evolution and complex biological processes in animals and to create animal models of human disease, supported in part by $24 million from the National Science Foundation. In the process, researchers are learning more about different species' behavior and life histories to overcome practical challenges, such as getting animals to reproduce in the lab.
A molecule engineered more than 20 years ago to reduce cholesterol levels now shows promise as a treatment for multiple sclerosis. The disease causes the body's immune system to attack the myelin sheath surrounding nerves, but experiments with mice show the sobetirome molecule -- recently modified so it can pass the blood-brain barrier -- acts to restore the myelin, and human trials are on the horizon.
SeaWorld published data from more than 2,800 routine blood tests on 32 orcas from 1993 to 2013, and the data could guide conservation efforts and interventions to save sick or stranded wild orcas. Though wild and captive-born orcas live in different environments, taking blood samples from wild orcas is extremely difficult, and the data set gives scientists a baseline, says veterinarian Deborah Fauquier, with the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Veterinarian Ginger Sturgeon, director of animal health at the Pittsburgh Zoo, led a unilateral mastectomy on an 11-year-old ring-tailed lemur and is hopeful the lemur will "have a long, happy, cancer-free life." The lemur was diagnosed with breast cancer after a zoo keeper noticed unusual swelling.
An experimental vaccine for chronic wasting disease tested in mice delayed the onset of symptoms by up to 60%, and researchers are working on an oral version. There is no treatment for the prion disease, which is highly contagious and is spreading through wild cervids in North America, says researcher Dalia Abdelaziz, and studies in squirrel monkeys showed the infectious prion can be transmitted to non-human primates.
A memo circulated by the USDA last summer ordered its scientists to label research papers published in peer-reviewed scientific journals as "preliminary" in a disclaimer. Former Economic Research Service administrator Susan Offutt says the requirement may run afoul of the USDA's integrity policy, and USDA Departmental Scientific Integrity Officer William Trenkle says a revision of the disclaimer is expected "in the near future."
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.
Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.
Desmond Tutu, theologian and human rights activist
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.