McGill University scientist Jeffrey Mogil says medications may affect men and women differently, and he argues studies must account for these differences, including preclinical work, which he says should aim to balance male and female subjects. In his own research, McGill found that blocking a certain pathway in male mice obviated their pain but had no effect on the pain of female mice, a potential problem when translating preclinical work to humans with chronic pain, 70% of whom are female. However, Cara Tannenbaum of the Institute of Gender and Health at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, said progress has been good, with many labs taking new steps to balance animal populations.
In a paper published in Nature, University of Minnesota immunologist David Masopust suggests exposing lab mice to wild mice or mice from pet stores will bolster the immune systems of the lab animals, making them more like human immune systems and therefore better models for investigating allergies, infectious disease and cancer. Masopust co-housed lab mice with pet-shop mice and found some of his lab mice exposed to Listeria experienced illness and death, but the co-housed lab mice that survived had higher counts of CD8+ cells and other markers of more robust and more human-like immune function.
University of Pittsburgh scientists published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that showed exposure to blue light before surgery reduces reperfusion injury in mice. Blue light appears to subdue the sympathetic nervous system, including activity of neutrophils, cells that play a role in reperfusion injury. The approach didn't work in blind mice, suggesting the mechanism involves photoreceptors. Trials on people who have sepsis or who are scheduled for partial liver removal are planned.
UCLA researchers studying the effects of a high-fructose diet on rats found that fructose is associated with widespread changes in DNA expression, including many associated with brain areas that govern metabolism and memory. The findings also suggest omega-3 fatty acid DHA consumption offset the harmful effects of fructose, but the researchers warned DHA isn't an antidote to all fructose damage. Fructose may be involved in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease, bipolar disorder, depression and other disorders of the brain, researchers said.
Scientists have discovered that ghrelin, long thought to regulate appetite, doesn't do so; instead, it is now believed to regulate fat storage. The study showed that rats with hyper-sensitized ghrelin receptors didn't lose as much weight as normal counterparts when calories were restricted, and they gained more weight than normal rats when normal caloric intake was permitted. Ghrelin has been a target for obesity treatment without much success, but the findings could spark the development of new treatments. The work is reported in Science Signaling.
A roughly two-week trip to space caused the beginnings of liver damage in mice, a finding that could have implications for humans on long space flights. "We saw the beginning of nascent liver damage in just 13.5 days," said Karen Jonscher, an author of the study published in PLOS ONE. Researchers say they need to study mice after longer space flights to see how their livers would react.
Pennsylvania State University researchers found the compound 3-nitrooxypropanol, known as 3NOP, reduces bovine methane emissions by 30%, increases protein content in milk and improves weight gain in cattle when added to their feed. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and reducing emissions from cattle could save ranchers money because less energy would be used for methane production. Researcher Alex Hristov has been working on the problem for 15 years and calls the 3NOP findings the most exciting development he has seen.
Scientists report that influenza D antibodies have been found in horses, in addition to sheep, goats, cattle and swine. South Dakota State University scientists have been working with the Minnesota Poultry Testing Lab, and they say that in its current form, influenza D is not a threat to humans, although future work will compare various viral types to understand potential future threats.
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