The public needs to know the truth about animals in biomedical research | New CRISPR technique could detect pathogens quickly | Peptide in amphibian mucus could cure H1 influenza
April 19, 2017
FBR Smartbrief
Top Story
The public needs to know the truth about animals in biomedical research
The public needs to know the truth about animals in biomedical research.
Animals in biomedical research are well cared for by researchers and by a husbandry team that provides food, activity and enrichment, writes Meagan Shetler, lab animal supervisor in the University of Kentucky's Division of Laboratory Animal Resources. Shetler, like other technicians and researchers, chose an animal research path because she wanted to help end the suffering of animals and people, and it's time to set the public record straight, she writes.
Lexington Herald-Leader (Ky.) (4/7) 
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Research Breakthroughs
New CRISPR technique could detect pathogens quickly
Scientists report in the journal Science that they used CRISPR gene editing technology to detect nucleic acids in pathogens, and the new tool, called SHERLOCK, could be used to detect viral and bacterial infections as well as cancer-causing mutations at the point of care. The technique uses the enzyme Cas13a, as opposed to the Cas9 enzyme used in the gene editing tool CRISPR/Cas9, and the scientists say it is both easily portable and inexpensive.
The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (4/13), (4/13) 
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Peptide in amphibian mucus could cure H1 influenza
Scientists have identified a peptide on the skin of the frog Hydrophylax bahuvistara, found in southern India, that interferes with hemagglutinin surface proteins on H1 influenza viruses, killing the pathogen without harming healthy cells. The scientists report in Immunity that a synthesized version of the protein, dubbed urumin, killed dozens of influenza strains in laboratory tests. The approach also protected mice from infection, so they plan to try it in other species.
The Telegraph (London) (tiered subscription model) (4/18),  Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model) (4/18),  CNN (4/18) 
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Compound inspired by Komodo dragon's blood helps heal wounds in mice
A synthetic compound patterned after a substance isolated from the blood of a Komodo dragon has helped heal infected wounds in mice, according to findings published in Biofilms and Microbiomes. Researchers are studying creatures like the Komodo dragon because of their remarkable self-healing abilities in an effort to create new antibiotics.
The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (4/17) 
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Study validates use of CRISPR to correct DMD-linked mutation
Researchers report in Science Advances that they corrected gene mutations that cause Duchenne muscular dystrophy using CRISPR-Cpf1 in mice and patient-derived stem cells. Function was at least partially restored in cardiomyocyte cultures, and the results show the potential of CRISPR-Cpf1 to correct disease-causing genetic mutations, experts said.
The Scientist (free registration) (4/2017) 
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Animal Health
One Health approach may be key to eradicating resurgent tropical disease
Eradicating the neglected tropical disease known as yaws might require monitoring and treating primates in Africa and Asia in addition to humans, a study published in the CDC's Emerging Infectious Diseases suggests. Nonhuman primates can host and transmit Treponema pallidum, which causes the disease.
Healio (free registration)/Infectious Disease News (4/14),  University of Washington (Seattle)/UW Today (4/12) 
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U. of Mo. veterinarians aim to improve quality of life in advanced cancer cases
Cachexia is a severe wasting state that commonly occurs in humans and dogs with late-stage cancer, but veterinarians at the University of Missouri are studying a treatment that they hope will improve cancer care in both species. Veterinarian Sandra Bechtel, who is running the trial, says cachexia seriously compromises quality of life in advanced cancer cases, resulting in appetite loss and eventually in organ failure.
The Kansas City Star (Mo.) (4/17) 
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Policy News
Open letter says private workshop on research with NHPs concerns scientists
A private, invitation-only workshop purports to bring together bioethicists, philosophers, veterinarians and others to discuss research involving nonhuman primates, but the scientific community has already validated the need for NHPs in research. The "private workshop has the appearance of being secretive while also directly opposing the processes in place for responsible public decision-making," according to this open letter. "As such, it appears to be yet another attempt to influence decisions about science without adequately representing either public interests or the breadth and depth of expertise in the scientific community."
Speaking of Research (4/19) 
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WHO reports progress in fight against neglected tropical diseases
WHO reports progress in fight against neglected tropical diseases.
(Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)
A global effort led by the World Health Organization to control or eradicate neglected tropical diseases by 2020 has made progress since its founding in 2007, according to a report presented at the Global Partners Meeting. The approach involves preventive chemotherapy, innovative disease management, vector control, veterinary public health, and provision of water and sanitation.
CNN (4/18) 
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Other News
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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.
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