Study shows promise for treating Duchenne muscular dystrophy | Animal testing finds safer vaccine has potential to eradicate polio for good | Study: Cancer cells can't simultaneously invade, multiply
 
January 6, 2016
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Study shows promise for treating Duchenne muscular dystrophy
Wheelchair.
(Pixabay)
Three groups of researchers have successfully used CRISPR gene editing to cut a piece of DNA in mouse models of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, ultimately leading to the production of a truncated but functional dystrophin protein. The debilitating disease affects young boys, rendering them unable to walk before their teen years and causing early death, usually by early adulthood. The treated mice performed better on strength tests than the untreated mice with DMD. The findings mark the first time CRISPR has been used to treat a genetic disorder throughout the body of a grown mammal. Gizmodo (1/4), Popular Science (1/4), The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (12/31), ScienceMag.org (12/31)
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Research Breakthroughs
Animal testing finds safer vaccine has potential to eradicate polio for good
Scientists at Britain's National Institute for Biological Standards and Control developed new polioviruses that are weaker than original strains for use in making a new, safer injectable polio vaccine. The development could meet a long-standing need for a vaccine that carries no risk of infection, which could clear the way for complete eradication of the disease. In animal models, the vaccine induced a viable immune response. STAT (12/31)
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Study: Cancer cells can't simultaneously invade, multiply
Cancer cells can't invade other cells and multiply at the same time, a finding that could change how cancer is treated, according to a study published in Developmental Cell. Researchers studying the inner workings of the transparent worm Caenorhabditis elegans found that in order for a cancer cell to invade other cells, it has to stop dividing, and a cancer cell that is inhibited from invading begins to divide. "Our study suggests that we need to figure out how to target these nondividing cells, too, as these are the ones that are invasive," said study author David Matus. ScientificAmerican.com (1/1)
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Animal studies advance new thinking on metastatic colorectal cancer
According to data published in Oncogene, Sprouty2, a known tumor-suppressing gene in some cancers, may promote potentially fatal metastasis in certain forms of colorectal tumors. Through years of studying the gene in mice, researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine found that high expression of Sprouty2 contributed to metastasis of colorectal tumors, possibly by enhancing epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. The findings could lead to personalized treatments for colorectal cancer patients. Medical News Today (1/5), HCPLive (1/4), Targeted Oncology (1/5)
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Ferret research could help eradicate Guinea worm
The painful Guinea worm infection occurs when the worms grow and reproduce within the human intestine and then migrate to the legs, where the sometimes-almost 3-foot-long worms take months to exit the skin. The infection has been close to being eradicated, but hundreds of cases were noted in dogs in Chad, one of just four countries that saw cases last year. Researchers are working with ferrets to find out how the parasite interacts with nonhuman hosts, and health officials in Chad are implementing prevention strategies, such as tethering dogs and burying potentially contaminated fish entrails. Nature (free content) (1/5)
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Rat study zeroes in on neurons associated with depression, schizophrenia symptoms
Researchers have located neurons in a rat's brain linked to its ability to feel pleasure, according to a study published in Science. When scientists stimulated the medial prefrontal cortex with light, the rats showed signs of anhedonia, which is the inability to experience pleasure linked to depression and schizophrenia. The brain wiring associated with the conditions has been poorly understood before now, hampering development of treatments. LiveScience.com (1/1)
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Animal Health
The newly discovered species of 2015 offer hope for better health
California Academy of Sciences researchers discovered 102 new animals, plants and viruses in 2015, including Dracula ants, goblin spiders, ghost sharks, a water bear and eight viruses. Experts think humans have documented only 10% to 20% of the world's biodiversity, and they argue some creatures will become extinct without humans ever knowing of their existence. "Every time we make a new species discovery, it may be a key to a future medicine, the glue that holds together an ecosystem or an important new predator," said Meg Lowman, chief of science and sustainability at the academy. San Francisco Chronicle (free content) (1/1)
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Skittish camels make MERS vaccine development challenging
Camel.
(Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images)
Researchers working on an intranasal vaccine to protect camels from Middle East respiratory syndrome found out the hard way that camels are stubborn. Camels won't move if they don't want to, and at 550 pounds, the animals can be dangerous even when they are cooperative. Researchers learned that pairing the animals and letting them move on their own worked better than attempting to move them, and their work has paid off. The vaccine shows promise and could help prevent the spread of MERS from camels to humans. Still, the team is looking at whether they might be able to work with a more cooperative animal such as alpacas as they develop the vaccine. STAT (1/4)
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FBR News
ICYMI: FBR's president on the value of canine cancer research for dogs and people
Dog and girl.
(Carl Court/Getty Images)
Animal rights activists calling for an end to all canine research threaten the fight against cancer in people and animals, writes FBR President Frankie Trull. Cancer develops spontaneously in dogs, and by studying that process, researchers learn about cancer in people. Canine cancer research has uncovered valuable information about lymphoma, brain cancer, osteosarcoma and others, often leading to new treatments for people and dogs. "[Animal rights activists] have long been willing to sacrifice human lives for their ideology," writes Trull. "But by campaigning against canine research, they're also putting the lives of dogs in danger." Daily News (New York) (12/26)
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