Mice had live Zika virus in their eyes a week after being infected and viral genetic material in their tears 28 days after infection, suggesting tears are a possible route of human-to-human transmission. Further research is planned to determine whether infectious virus persists in the cornea or other parts of the eye, senior author Rajendra Apte said.
Activity in a brain circuit that is critical to brain reward pathways decreases as mice prepare for sleep, and stimulation of the circuit rouses the sleeping rodents, according to a study published in Nature Neuroscience. The finding could lead to therapies for sleep disorders that target the circuit, researcher Luis de Lecea said.
The FDA is set to review nusinersen, an experimental drug for spinal muscular atrophy that, if approved, could showcase how industry, philanthropy and patients work together to promote research into treatments for specific diseases. Former financial executives Loren Eng and Dinakar Singh, whose daughter has SMA, arranged to have special mice shipped to a US lab for testing of the compound, which dramatically extended the animals' lives, and results in humans have also been positive.
Long-term use of certain antidepressants may cause loss of bone mass and result in a higher risk of fractures, according to a study on mice published in Nature Medicine. Researchers studied the effects of fluoxetine, which is Prozac's active ingredient, on mice and found that initially, their bones grew stronger, but the longer they took it, the more the higher levels of serotonin caused by the drug hampered bone growth.
Mice with a genetically reprogrammed cell-signaling pathway associated with tumor growth developed much smaller tumors than mice in a control group. The study, published in Nature Methods, involved using CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing to reprogram the cells.
A typically benign bacterium found in the vagina during pregnancy can produce balloons of protein that can travel into the uterus and cause premature labor and stillbirth in mice, according to a study published in PLOS Pathogens. Researchers say they don't yet know why Group B Streptococcus, or Strep B, makes the toxic balloons.
Finnish researchers who looked at data from over 8,000 cats examined the prevalence of 227 illnesses and identified nearly 60 diseases believed to be hereditary within certain breeds, although only six have been linked to a specific mutation. The most common health issues overall involve the mouth, skin or kidneys, according to the Frontiers in Veterinary Science report.
A study that examined brain activity in dogs, finding that they understand certain words as well as intonation, sparked many questions about how any dog could be persuaded to lie still for an eight-minute brain scan. Study co-author Marta Gacsi used social learning and limited food rewards in a series of up to 30 training sessions to get the dogs to remain still in the MRI scanners used in the research, reported in Science.
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