Research on stress improves understanding of human, animal disorders | Exosomes deliver dopamine to the brain in mouse models of Parkinson's disease | Compound works as well as opioids in monkeys, without causing addiction
Animals and people have similar responses to stress, and the careful study of animals' stress response can not only improve treatment of stress-related disorders in people but also conservation efforts and animal health, writes biology professor Christine Lattin. "Scientific research is the right thing to do to help us solve lingering problems in human health and wildlife management," Lattin writes. "We all benefit from animal research -- humans and animals alike."
Exosomes loaded with dopamine and injected into mice accumulated in the brain as well as other major organs, but free dopamine injected into mice did not accumulate in the brain, suggesting that exosomes could be a vehicle for delivering dopamine to the brains of Parkinson's disease patients, according to a study in the Journal of Controlled Release. Dopamine levels increased by more than 56% in the striatum in mouse models of Parkinson's disease that were injected with dopamine-loaded exosomes, the researchers reported.
An experimental drug called AT-121 not only relieved pain in monkeys as well as opioid-based drugs but did not cause addiction and reduced addiction, researchers reported in Science Translational Medicine. Like opioids, the compound activates the mu-opiate receptor in neurons, but it also activates another receptor that prevents dependence, and it was effective in smaller doses than opioids with fewer side effects.
Researchers reported in Science that they silenced the effects of a genetic mutation in dogs that causes Duchenne muscular dystrophy by further damaging the DNA using CRISPR genome editing, which enabled the faulty gene to again make a shortened but functional dystrophin in muscles, including the heart. The study was small and short due to ethical concerns and researchers' desire to keep the use of dogs "to an absolute minimum," said study leader Eric Olson.
The pace at which technology is advancing to grow pieces of human brain tissue, or cerebral organoids, is leading to insights on glioblastoma, social development, autism and epilepsy, but it has also prompted calls for discussions about ethics. Questions regarding consciousness, protection, chimeras and what it means to be alive have arisen as the science advances.
Researchers are working on a treatment for phenylketonuria -- a rare genetic disease that causes damage to neurons in the brain -- based on an engineered bacteria that has been effective in mice and monkeys. The scientists inserted genes into the DNA of a harmless strain of E. coli, which then breaks down phenylalanine once the capsule arrives in the gut.
Some cats might develop a chronic inflammatory reaction to injections that progresses to feline injection site sarcoma, says veterinary surgeon Elizabeth Maxwell, who, along with veterinary surgeon Heidi Phillips, has been studying whether subcutaneously administered carboplatin kills the cancerous cells. No adverse effects were observed in safety trials, and the next step is to test the therapy in cats with FISS.
Researchers who launched a Kickstarter-funded project called Kitty Biome to sequence the fecal genomes of donors' cats are using the knowledge they gained to create encapsulated fecal samples from healthy donors' samples to restore healthy gut bacteria in cats with chronic diarrhea and vomiting.
The FDA is working with public- and private-sector partners to modernize regulatory activities while making regulatory decisions more transparent and predictable, writes FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. He describes new policies to support modernized clinical trial requirements, more efficient agency processes to advance regulatory science and an expansion of the agency's capacity for analyzing real-world data streams.
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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.