Government's decision on chimpanzee endangered status is a "tragic irony" | Scientists say gene editing could revolutionize research, treatments | Technique increases plasticity of mature brains, shows potential for easing PTSD
 
December 2, 2015
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Government's decision on chimpanzee endangered status is a "tragic irony"
The government's classification of all US research chimps as endangered creates a "tragic irony," writes FBR President Frankie Trull, who argues that the classification jeopardizes work that would also protect wild chimpanzees from deadly diseases including Ebola. Research into an oral vaccine that could allow widespread vaccination of wild chimps against Ebola will stall if it cannot be tested on the animals, she writes. "Animal research models have been crucial to improving the health and well-being of humans and animals alike," Trull writes. "New restrictions will only end up increasing both human and animal suffering." SeacoastOnline (Portsmouth, N.H.) (tiered subscription model) (11/30)
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Research Breakthroughs
Scientists say gene editing could revolutionize research, treatments
Gene editing tools like the CRISPR/Cas9 technique are giving patients like 13-year-old Sohana Nikapota new hope. Recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa is rare and painful disorder caused by a mutation in the collagen VII gene, something gene editing might ultimately reverse. Although scientists are still working out a framework for ethical use of the technology, experts agree it could revolutionize research and eventually treatment of genetic diseases. "It is already enabling scientists to create better animal models of disease. In [the] future, we hope it could be used not just to understand disease but to cure it. If we see a mutation in a cell, we can fix it. That's very exciting," said Jennifer Doudna, co-creator of the CRISPR system. BBC (12/1)
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Technique increases plasticity of mature brains, shows potential for easing PTSD
Brain plasticity naturally decreases as animals age, complicating treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, but new research demonstrates a method that increases brain plasticity in adult mice, essentially resetting their fear response. By combining extinction, a kind of desensitization to fear triggers, and blocking expression of a molecular receptor that facilitates the transition from a higher plasticity juvenile brain to a more stable adult brain, the researchers completely reversed the animals' fear response. The findings could lead to new and more effective treatments for people with PTSD. Time.com (12/1)
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Antidepressant slows aging in young worms, study finds
The antidepressant drug mianserin increased the life spans of roundworms by 30% compared with worms not given the drug by extending early life, according to a study published in eLife. Researchers showed the drug preserved coordination of gene expression by protecting against transcriptional drift. Laying the groundwork for the study, the team developed a method for measuring transcriptional drift in mice and human tissue, and they may conduct mianserin tests on mice if tests on mammalian cell cultures are promising. The Guardian (London) (12/1)
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Drug takes novel approach to treating MS in early trials
The drug etomoxir blocks a protein called CPT1 and prevents the breakdown of myelin lipids, thus halting the pathology of multiple sclerosis and resolving MS symptoms in some animal models, according to researchers investigating the drug. In one study, the drug resolved symptoms in one-quarter of rats with late-stage MS. A genetic mutation affecting the protein affects certain human populations that have a low incidence of MS, the researchers note. Phase II clinical trials are planned. Medscape (free registration) (12/1)
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Functional diaphragm tissue developed from stem cells
Karolinska Institutet regenerative medicine researcher Dr. Paolo Macchiarini and colleagues have transplanted stem-cell derived diaphragm tissue in rat models, according to a study in Biomaterials. Stems cells from the bone marrow of a rat were seeded into a protein matrix and implanted in the rat's diaphragm. One in 2,500 infants is born with diaphragm defects, and the research could pave the way for treatment. Time.com (12/1)
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High-fat diet triggers inflammation and impaired brain function, study finds
A study published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity compared diets with high and low levels of saturated fats, finding high-fat diets trigger an autoimmune response that harms the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning. After three months, mice fed a diet high in saturated fat had chronic inflammation, elevated cytokines and fewer synaptic connections in the hippocampus than mice eating a diet low in saturated fat. The changes normalized once the mice were fed a diet low in saturated fat. Forbes (11/30)
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What Do You Think?
What role will animal models play in biomedical research over the next 10 years? 
VoteThey will continue to be essential for development of treatments and cures for diseases affecting people and animals.
VoteThe role of animal models in scientific research and discovery will become less important as viable alternatives emerge.
VoteAnimal models will not be necessary in scientific research and discovery over the next decade.
Animal Health
Emerging field of pet prosthetics gets injured animals back on their feet
Only a handful of companies create prosthetic limbs and orthotics for pets, but business is booming. Veterinarians and pet owners are increasingly turning to the devices instead of amputations when animals are injured. The devices have grown more high-tech, incorporating carbon fiber, providing varying flexibility and increasing comfort for animals. Although there is no formal education or licensing process for the discipline, veterinary schools are increasingly devoting teaching time to the topic. Newsweek (11/25)
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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.
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