Comparative oncology offers promise for animals and people | Study: Social status affects immunity | Scientists restore heart function in mice
November 30, 2016
FBR Smartbrief
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Comparative oncology offers promise for animals and people
Comparative oncology offers promise for animals and people.
(Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Veterinary and medical researchers across the country are collaborating to study comparative oncology, which uses pets as models in cancer research, an approach that is particularly useful as scientists explore the promise of immunotherapies. Veterinarian Nicola Mason, who oversees canine cancer treatment trials at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine, said dogs are a good model for studying cancer because they develop cancer and react to treatments like humans do.
The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (11/26) 
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Research Breakthroughs
Study: Social status affects immunity
Study: Social status affects immunity.
(Sam Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images)
Relative position in the social hierarchy affected immune system function in a study of 45 female rhesus monkeys, with those at lower ranks having lower levels of certain immune cells. The study, published in Science, also found that changing the monkeys' relative position influenced immune cell gene expression.
The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (11/25) 
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Scientists restore heart function in mice
Though similar to the human heart, the zebrafish heart can repair itself, and a study published in Science Advances suggests the zebrafish extracellular matrix might also prompt repair of mammalian cardiac tissue. When injected into a mouse heart with muscle damage, the zebrafish ECM restored function right away, the researchers reported.
New Atlas (11/23) 
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mTOR inhibitors suspend development of mouse blastocysts
Drugs that inhibit the cell growth regulator mTOR put mouse blastocysts into a reversible state of suspended animation for as long as four weeks, and researchers say the method might have implications for assisted reproduction, aging, regenerative medicine and cancer research. The embryos resumed normal growth once the mTOR inhibitor was withdrawn, and the blastocysts developed normally when placed in adult female mice, the researchers reported in Nature.
HealthDay News (11/23) 
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Aspartame interferes with metabolic process in mouse study
Aspartame might interfere with a gut enzyme that neutralizes bacterial toxins, allowing the toxins to accumulate and cause low-grade inflammation that might play a role in chronic disease, researchers reported in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism. Mice fed a high-fat diet gained more weight when they also consumed aspartame, and mice that ingested aspartame had higher blood sugar between meals regardless of fat content in their diets.
New Scientist (free content) (11/24) 
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Other News
Animal Health
West African nations collaborate to fight zoonotic diseases
Health ministers from West African nations agreed to develop a coordinated approach to preventing and treating diseases that affect animals and people, but a shortage of domestic financing and veterinarians complicates the effort, according to the World Health Organization. The ministers agreed to undertake national risk assessments, establish alert systems for outbreaks and equip laboratories to handle samples from humans and animals, according to the WHO.
Medscape (free registration)/The Associated Press/Thomson Reuters Foundation (11/28) 
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Policy News
Where will Price stand on biomedical research issues?
Observers say that as a physician, Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., has an appreciation for science, but they warn that Price's consistent efforts to cut spending might endanger biomedical research funding if he is confirmed as HHS secretary under President-elect Donald Trump. Price has criticized the Public Health and Prevention Fund, repeatedly opposed embryonic stem cell research and pushed back against National Cancer Moonshot funding because it was not offset elsewhere.
Nature (free content) (11/29) 
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21st Century Cures Act would give research a boost
The House is poised to vote on the 21st Century Cures Act today, a sweeping bill that would boost research funding, particularly for cancer, and expedite FDA review of breakthrough medical devices and drug-device combinations. The measure would direct billions of dollars in new money to the NIH, funding research focused on immunotherapy and other cancer treatments, brain research and more.
National Public Radio (11/29),  The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (11/28),  Reuters (11/28),  STAT (11/27) 
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Spanish military steps in to help biomedical researchers
Twenty-nine transgenic mice were transported aboard a military aircraft from Madrid to Gando Air Base on Gran Canaria and from there were shipped by sea to the University of La Laguna on Tenerife. The mice had been held in Madrid for two months after Iberia and Air Europa airlines stopped carrying laboratory animals. (11/28) 
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FBR News
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