Antibody study raises hopes for Ebola vaccine | Scientists explore new way to combat MERS | Drug blunts long-term harms from traumatic brain injury
February 24, 2016
FBR Smartbrief

Top Story
Antibody study raises hopes for Ebola vaccine
Research reported in Science shows antibodies from the blood of an Ebola survivor targeted vulnerable portions of a glycoprotein found on the virus' surface, giving scientists a new avenue for Ebola vaccine development. Initially, the researchers isolated 300 anti-Ebola antibodies from the survivor, and 77 showed promise. Mouse models were treated with the antibodies and showed 60% to 100% protection. The study narrowed researchers' focus to three antibodies, each of which targets a different spot on the molecule, as having the best potential for vaccine development. Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model) (2/18), Forbes (2/18), Sci-Tech Today (2/19)
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Research Breakthroughs
Scientists explore new way to combat MERS
Boy feeding camels.
(Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images)
Antibodies to Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus produced in genetically modified cattle protected mice from infection by the deadly zoonotic virus. Since MERS was first discovered in 2012 in Saudi Arabia, the virus has killed some 600 people. The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and published in Science Translational Medicine. Popular Science (2/17), Business Standard (India)/Press Trust of India (2/18)
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Drug blunts long-term harms from traumatic brain injury
Traumatic brain injury has been linked to long-term consequences including dementia and epilepsy, but researchers have discovered the drug MW151 mitigates these problems in mice. Inflammation assists with injury repair but is believed to play a role in long-term problems after TBI. MW151 reduced interleukin-1 beta, a cytokine involved with inflammation, while maintaining beneficial inflammatory processes. The drug also reduced cognitive impairment. Medical News Today (2/22)
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Human optogenetics trial takes aim at retinitis pigmentosa
Researchers hope to restore vision to patients with retinitis pigmentosa by using a technique developed in animal studies. The researchers will inject a virus loaded with DNA from light-sensitive algae into patients, and the DNA should induce endogenous production of the light-sensitive protein channelrhodopsin. The process has proved successful in monkeys and rodents, and scientists routinely use light to activate or inactivate neurons in lab animals. (2/19)
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Engineered stomach cells could stand in as pancreatic tissue in people with diabetes
In Cell Stem Cell, researchers report they have engineered mini-stomachs that produce insulin and function in rodent models. The team re-engineered stomach cells from diabetic mice to act like beta cells pancreatic tissue. They grew mini-organs and implanted them back in the mice. The tissue released insulin and maintained glucose levels in some of the mice, suggesting potential for treatment of humans using a similar approach. Science News (2/18)
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Other News
Animal Health
Horses learn to use touch-screen computers
Japanese researchers have created a 42-inch LCD touch-screen monitor for horses to take the human factor out of equine cognition tests. The team compared performance among ponies, humans and chimpanzees in a study of shape and size identification. All three species performed similarly detecting shape differences. Horses did have more difficulty than people and chimps when it came to differentiating between circles of similar size. The Horse (2/18)
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Policy News
Collins: Experts to review NIH framework for nonhuman primate research
Dr. Francis Collins.
Dr. Francis Collins. (Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
In response to a mandate from Congress, NIH Director Francis Collins said the organization will convene a panel of experts to evaluate and streamline policies and procedures relating to research involving nonhuman primates. "Research with non-human primates is an essential component of the NIH mission and many patients have reaped -- and will continue to reap -- dramatic benefits as a result," Collins wrote to lawmakers, stressing the value of such work for fighting Ebola, heart disease and more. "NIH takes animal welfare concerns seriously, and has numerous policies and protocols in place to assure the ethical treatment and use of these invaluable resources." (2/22)
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Conn. high court to consider privacy protections for animal researchers
The Connecticut Supreme Court will hear a case later this week to determine whether the University of Connecticut can keep the names of researchers using animal subjects private because of concerns over their safety. The Republic (Columbus, Ind.) (2/21)
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FBR News
Pro-Test marks 10 years of science leadership
FBR would like to wish Pro-Test a happy 10th anniversary tomorrow, February 25. Pro-Test, founded by Laurie Pycroft when she was just 16, has been a leader in uniting the scientific community and speaking up for animal research in both the UK and US. Share your support of Pro-Test tomorrow with #ProTest10.
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