Cooler lab temps alter mouse biology, might skew research findings | Mammalian reproduction possible in space, research suggests | Mouse study shows sunscreen prevents melanoma
April 20, 2016
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Cooler lab temps alter mouse biology, might skew research findings
Roswell Park Cancer Institute scientists report that typical laboratory temperatures -- between 68 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit -- are too cold for mice, which do better with an ambient temperature between 86 and 90 degrees. The cooler temperatures could affect mouse biology and skew research results and reproducibility among labs that maintain different temperatures. For now, the authors suggest reporting lab temperature with scientific data, and they say researchers may want to consider working in a warmer lab, or perhaps incubate some animals and compare results against findings from mice housed at standard lab temperatures. The topic is discussed in Trends in Cancer.
STAT (4/19),  Gizmodo (4/19) 
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Research Breakthroughs
Mammalian reproduction possible in space, research suggests
Mouse embryos have successfully been developed in space, according to Chinese researchers. Several of about 6,000 embryos aboard a recoverable satellite that was launched April 6 grew into blastocysts in a little over three days, suggesting that mammalian reproduction is possible in space, which is considered a key element to colonization off-planet.
The Telegraph (London) (tiered subscription model) (4/19) 
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Mouse study shows sunscreen prevents melanoma
Girl in pool.
(Pixabay)
Sunscreen with an SPF of 30 protected mice from melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer, according to data reported this week at the American Association for Cancer Research's annual meeting. The study constitutes a breakthrough because it links sunscreen directly with protection against cancer and not just sunburns, which are a risk factor for melanoma.
HealthDay News (4/17),  Time.com (4/18) 
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Injection of immune protein improves memory, cognition in Alzheimer's model
Hong Kong and UK researchers found that an injection of interleukin 33, an immune protein that protects the brain and spinal cord, was associated with improved cognition and memory in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease. Within a week of the injection, the test mice regained function similar to that of control mice, according to the research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
BBC (4/19),  The Scotsman (Edinburgh) (4/19) 
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Mice engineered to stutter help explain condition in people
Mice genetically engineered to squeak with pauses and tones consistent with stuttering seen in some humans are helping scientists explore causes and possible treatments for the condition. Researchers are zeroing in on a gene that encodes a protein responsible for helping enzymes that dispose of cellular trash make their way to lysosomes. As is seen in humans who stutter, mice with the genetic modification showed no other changes beyond the stutter-like vocalizations.
Ars Technica (4/16) 
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Zika virus mutations could help explain defects, researchers say
Aedes aegypti.
Aedes aegypti. (Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images)
Researchers in China and the US have found that numerous genetic mutations have occurred in Zika virus, creating substantial differences in the African and Asian strains that might explain the recent emergence of birth defects and other issues associated with the virus. The study, published in Cell Press journal, Cell Host & Microbe, compared Zika virus strains from mosquitoes, humans and monkeys, uncovering mutations that might improve viral replication, allow the pathogen to escape immune system attack or allow it to invade new tissues.
Time.com (4/15),  WNBC-TV (New York) (4/15) 
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Other News
Animal Health
Scientists weigh pros and cons of genetic tinkering
In an effort to conserve endangered species and those with little genetic diversity, some scientists support the use of gene editing to increase disease resistance, thwart invasive species and add genetic material from long-dead animals to their species' limited gene pool. Gene editing is already being tested for reduction of mosquito populations that transmit the Zika virus. Scientists, however, warn of possible unintended ramifications that could hurt ecosystems.
The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (4/16) 
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Dolphins talk to each other to solve problems, study finds
Dolphins communicate with each other while solving problems as a team, a new study suggests. Scientists gave bottlenose dolphins six canisters containing food and observed them making more vocalizations when they tried to open them in pairs as opposed to working on the problem alone or if the canister wasn't present. "This is the first time that we can say conclusively that dolphin vocalizations were used to solve a cooperative task," said Holli Eskelinen, author of the study published in Animal Cognition.
New Scientist (4/15) 
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