Animal research has brought humankind the polio vaccine, insulin, the ability to control involuntary movements associated with Parkinson's disease and an understanding of how negative childhood experiences affect the brain and behavior, writes Tania Roth, an associate professor of psychological and brain sciences. "Without the animals I work with, I would not be able to uncover the basis of how our experiences affect our brains," Roth writes, adding that the results of her research are already being used to develop interventions for neglected and at-risk children in the US and abroad.
Eight of 11 babies born with life-threatening heart defects survived and all but one was able to come off an extracorporeal membrane oxygenator after undergoing autologous mitochondrial transplants. The procedure, which has been shown to regenerate heart muscle in pigs, involves harvesting mitochondria from healthy muscle and injecting it into the injured part of the heart. The doctors who pioneered the procedure have found that they can instead infuse mitochondria into a blood vessel feeding the heart, and a clinical trial of adult bypass and valve surgery patients may begin soon.
An experimental vaccine for HIV-1 was well-tolerated and induced an immune response in healthy people, and protected 67% of rhesus monkeys from simian-HIV, according to a study published in The Lancet. A larger clinical trial in people at higher risk for HIV is underway.
The full genetic sequence of the axolotl, published in Nature earlier this year, could enable researchers to determine how the salamanders regenerate complex body parts and possibly develop techniques for human limb and organ regeneration. Though axolotls and humans have a similar number of genes, the axolotl genome is about 10 times longer than the human genome, and some genes that are common in regenerating limb tissue do not have a clear human counterpart, says researcher Elly Tanaka.
A combination of the leukemia treatment dasatinib and the dietary supplement quercetin lowered the number of senescent cells, reduced inflammation and age-related disability, and extended the healthy lifespan of mice, according to a study published in Nature Medicine. The combination had the same effects on human cells and is being tested in people with chronic kidney disease to determine whether it is safe.
Researchers who analyzed the genomes of more than 750 species reported in Genome Biology that gene transfer between different species appears to be a key driver of evolution. Retrotransposons might be carried between species by insects or viruses, says lead researcher David Adelson.
Yellow fever has spread from the forests of the Amazon to southeastern Brazil, now home to the biggest outbreak of the zoonotic disease in 80 years. Human vaccination is effective against the virus, but vaccination among nonhuman primates is impractical and mortality in some species, already under threat from poaching and habitat loss, can reach 90%.
Hendra virus is transmitted by bats and is endemic in Australia, where it has killed both horses and people, including veterinarians, since the first documented outbreak in 1994. An equine vaccine exists, but many horse owners resist advice to vaccinate due to cost or concern of side effects, and scientists fear the virus could become a global concern if it mutates.
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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.