Hyperthyroidism, now common in domestic cats, was unheard of in felines until the late 1970s, when veterinarian Mark Peterson noticed similarities between a patient's symptoms and the signs of hyperthyroidism in humans. Veterinarians around the world began to diagnose the condition in cats while research was beginning to link the condition to fire retardants known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers. Because humans and cats live side by side, scientists are increasingly concerned that the feline disorder is a harbinger of a threat to human health, too.
In "The Matter of the Heart," Thomas Morris describes how the now commonplace transcatheter aortic valve implantation procedure was once dismissed by scientists and investors alike even as strides were made in animal studies. Now, aided by advances in stem cell engineering and 3D printing, scientists are trying to generate entire hearts, and some have had success in animal studies such as growing heart tissue capable of pumping blood on a scaffold of extracellular matrix and connective fiber taken from a rat, as well as a 3D-printed hydrogel facsimile of a human heart.
University of California at Davis graduates Arshia Firouzi and Gurkern Sufi are lab testing a single-cell electroporator for creating transgenic organisms, and the device could accelerate the pace of animal and human research. The device sends electrical pulses into embryos, creating pores through which a gene-editing agent diffuses.
Bacteria evolve so quickly that any new antibiotics will quickly become ineffective, says Janelle Ayres, who is shaking up the world of immunology with her research on tolerance -- the notion that harnessing beneficial bacteria can allow the body to tolerate and overcome infection. She and her colleagues at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have already identified certain bacteria -- which she calls "superhero bugs" -- in mouse studies.
Canine and human waistlines are expanding, and researchers are working to understand the drivers and consequences of obesity in both species by focusing on similarities such as genetic underpinnings, as well as key differences, like the fact that portly dogs are less prone to diabetes than their human counterparts. Findings that a section of a gene dubbed POMC is missing in certain dogs and associated with appetite and obesity have sparked a flurry of interest among scientists who hope to apply the findings to treatment of humans.
Animal welfare researchers led by the University of Bern's Michael Toscano attached tracking anklets to chickens at a commercial aviary to find out why some go outside and some do not, and how keel bone damage affects mobility and egg production. The research has shown that individual chickens have their own daily routines, and Toscano plans to expand the work to larger populations to validate the patterns his team has uncovered.
While observing an ailing wild, female chimpanzee in 1987, primatologist Michael Huffman noticed the animal chewing a bitter plant the troop had never touched, and the chimp appeared healthier within 24 hours of eating the plant. It was his first glimpse of what looked like animal self-medication, a phenomenon that has also been documented in some form among caterpillars, birds, sheep and other species. Humans may have gained medicinal knowledge by watching animals, and scientists believe animal self-medication could be applied today, such as to help reduce anti-parasitic medication resistance in livestock.
Money for medical research could take a hit if Congress approves President Donald Trump's budget plan. The proposal calls for a $5.8 billion cut to the National Institutes of Health and $1 billion less for the National Cancer Institute compared to its 2017 budget.
US serviceman hugging a bomb-sniffing dog. (Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images)
As Memorial Day approaches, we honor the brave men, women, and service animals who have given their lives for our country. We also recognize the thousands of veterans and war dogs who have returned from the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan with physical and psychological injuries.
Read FBR's latest blog post to see how these wounded heroes have access to a better quality of life than those in decades past, thanks to medical advancements made possible by animal research. Looking to the future, learn about the latest science and exciting new discoveries that may, for example, one day allow paralyzed veterans and service animals to walk again.
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.
Restlessness is discontent -- and discontent is the first necessity of progress.
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.