Scientists are sharing data from primate studies in an effort to fast-track Zika virus research and vaccine development, and results are promising. Among the early findings: Infection leaves primates with antibodies that protect against reinfection, and the virus circulates for only a short time in males and non-pregnant females but lingers in pregnant females, invading multiple types of tissue. Scientists are also working with macaques to find drugs that may prevent placental transmission of Zika from mother to fetus, and trials of two experimental Zika vaccines demonstrated complete immunity in mice.
In mouse models of breast cancer, researchers found that stress transforms the lymphatic network into a kind of superhighway that promotes the spread of cancer, but beta blockers appeared to stop the lymphatic system's stress response to potentially slow the spread of cancer. A trial in women undergoing surgery for breast cancer at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, Australia, is evaluating the effect of beta blockers compared with placebo.
Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic, in an effort to repair brain damage in stroke patients and reinstate normal motor function, will test deep-brain stimulation in human stroke patients. The technique has proved effective in rat stroke models, resulting in elevated levels of brain plasticity proteins and twice as many nerve synapses, compared with control rats. Some 800,000 people in the US suffer a stroke, and half of those are permanently debilitated afterward, according to estimates.
Qiurong Ding of China's Institute for Nutritional Sciences is testing gene editing in mice to target hypercholesterolemia, work that was prompted by the revelation that some people carry a mutation that appears to protect them from some negative effects of a poor diet. Her team sought to test whether the gene could be given to healthy people by working with mice, and the study found one dose of the gene therapy yielded a 40% decrease in cholesterol.
Maternal diet and smoking habits are known to negatively affect fetuses, and new research suggests paternal obesity can influence sperm gene expression, affecting development in offspring in a way that may predispose them to breast cancer. In obese male mice, the researchers found microRNA signatures were altered, as were miRNA patterns in mammary tissue of female offspring.
The paternal mitochondrial DNA in roundworms' sperm self-destructs when it combines with an egg, according to a new study in Science that examines why only maternal mitochondrial DNA is passed to offspring. Researchers delayed the self-destruct mechanism in the paternal DNA and found embryos had a lower survival rate.
Feline cytauxzoonosis, also called bobcat fever, is infecting and killing outdoor cats in rural and urban areas of Muskogee County, Okla. Veterinarians in the area are reporting a higher-than-normal number of cases of the tick-borne disease, which ticks acquire while feeding on bobcats and then transmit to domestic cats. Preventive measures include using tick prevention medication on cats and keeping cats indoors.
The House last week passed a $1.1 billion spending bill for preventing the spread of the Zika virus in the US. However, Democrats and the White House expressed opposition to the legislation, which would redirect $750 million from other federal health care programs, and Senate Democrats blocked the measure on Tuesday and called for renewed talks.
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