The severed optic nerve in mice partially regenerated after the mice received visual stimulation and molecular manipulation treatments, researchers reported in Nature Neuroscience. Retinal ganglion cell axons grew long enough to connect with the brain and linked with the appropriate targets for vision to be partially restored. The technique holds promise for people with glaucoma, optic nerve trauma or central nervous system damage, the researchers say.
Scientists have created a tiny robotic stingray using a gold skeleton covered in rat heart cells and controlled by light, according to findings reported in Science. Researchers say the little robot is helping them learn more about the mechanics of muscle pumping and could lead to the development of optical pacemakers and advances in soft robotics.
Researchers are studying five monkeys conceived using a novel technique and carrying the genes of three parents -- nuclear DNA from a male and female parent and mitochondrial DNA from another female. If the monkeys age and reproduce normally, the technique may be tried in people in an effort to prevent inherited mitochondrial disease.
A study reported in Cell Metabolism suggests consumption of artificial sweeteners may prompt people to eat more by triggering a starvation-like response in the brain. Fruit flies fed a diet with a synthetic sweetener for five or more days ate 30% more calories than those that had regular sugar in their diets, and the team zeroed in on the neural network associated with the response, involving insulin, taste-sensing neurons and reward pathways.
Mice have about the same number of genes associated with olfactory function as dogs have, and genetic engineers are producing mice that can detect the chemical signatures of land mines and diseases. The research could improve understanding of the human olfactory system, lead to the creation of a "nose-on-a-chip" for research, or lead to the development of rodents that can detect disease.
Blastospores produced by the fungus Metarhizium brunneum attach to the cuticle of mosquito larvae and kill them within 12 to 24 hours. The larvae also swallow some blastospores, which flourish in aquatic environments, causing extensive damage to the insects' guts, researchers reported in PLOS Pathogens.
Obesity in mice does not increase thermal insulation and drive body temperature-related changes in mouse metabolism, according to a study published in the American Journal of Physiology -- Endocrinology and Metabolism that sheds light on obesity and metabolism in humans. Fur does protect mice against heat loss and accounts for nearly half of a mouse's insulation, the researchers found.
Horseshoe crab blood is the basis for the limulus amebocyte lysate test, which biomedical companies use to ensure vaccines, drugs and medical implants are not contaminated with bacteria. Companies draw about 30% of horseshoe crabs' blood and return them to the ocean, but the practice might affect the crabs' ability to reproduce, contributing to population declines. Volunteers with the Massachusetts Audubon Society are tagging horseshoe crabs in an effort to provide an accurate census on which to base policy that allows continued biomedical use without harming the species.
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