Stem cell grafts appear to help macaques heal from heart attacks | Primate study suggests Zika may cause more miscarriage than previously thought | Compounds in flea, tick preventives could help prevent malaria in people
Macaques given human embryonic stem cell grafts after a heart attack regained some cardiac function; the new heart muscle cells appeared to grow and vascularize; and treated monkeys had smaller scars than untreated monkeys, researchers reported in Nature Biotechnology. The findings build on previous studies in other animal models and hold promise for helping humans recover from heart attacks.
An analysis of data from multiple studies, reported in Nature Medicine, found 26% of pregnant monkeys that were infected with Zika virus during the first trimester experienced miscarriage or stillbirth. That compares with about 8% of women who were infected in early pregnancy, but human studies rely on symptomatic infections, so the rate of Zika-linked miscarriage or stillbirth may be higher than previously reported, according to researcher Dawn Dudley.
Isoxazolines in veterinary medicines that kill fleas and ticks when they bite animals also kill mosquitoes and sandflies when they bite people who have taken the drugs, suggesting that isoxazolines could be used to prevent malaria, leishmaniasis, Zika virus and other insect-borne diseases, researchers reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The drugs kill insects when they take a blood meal by damaging their nervous systems, and they could reduce mosquito populations if used as part of a malaria prevention strategy, said study co-author Hannah Slater.
In 2008, Australian equine veterinarian Ben Cunneen became the third person known to have been killed by Hendra virus, and his death prompted a research team at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Australia's national science agency, to seek a treatment for the virus. Scientists involved with that effort have identified a gene that regulates production of cytokines involved in inflammation, infection and trauma, and the finding may have broad implications for research on autoimmune disorders, antiviral immunity and cancer, the team reported in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
An artificial ovary made of decellularized ovarian tissue kept human eggs alive for weeks, and the research is an advance toward developing an artificial ovary that could be implanted in women after undergoing cancer or other therapies that may compromise fertility. A study presented by researcher Susanne Pors demonstrated that 25% of human follicles in an artificial ovary implanted into a mouse survived for at least three weeks, and blood vessels began to grow around the ovary.
Scientists at Rutgers University and the Monmouth County Tick-Borne Disease Laboratory are sequencing DNA from the longhorned tick to determine the tick's country of origin, potentially map its spread in the US and identify what pathogens it carries. The findings may be useful in developing an eradication plan before the tick becomes endemic in wildlife.
Veterinary neurosurgeon John Rossmeisl is leading a comparative oncology study at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine testing whether a genetically engineered toxin made from bacteria is effective against canine glioma. Dr. Rossmeisl is working with Wake Forest University Brain Tumor Center of Excellence Director Waldemar Debinski, who developed the treatment and delivery technique to treat human glioma, and the canine trial is designed to determine a safe dosage before scaling up human trials.
Thousands of migrating birds crowd the shores of Delaware Bay each spring, providing a rich source of information to researchers studying avian influenza. Every strain of influenza that affects humans has origins in birds, says expert Richard Webby, and studying the migrating birds and their droppings gives researchers a better understanding of how influenza evolves, potentially improving vaccine efficacy, says Marciela DeGrace of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
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