2 companies launch Phase I trials of Zika vaccine candidates | Gene therapy prevents muscle wasting in preclinical study | Experimental drug prevents HIV infection, transmission in mice
August 3, 2016
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2 companies launch Phase I trials of Zika vaccine candidates
First Zika-related death in continental US recorded in Utah.
(Luis Robayo/AFP/Getty Images)
Two drug companies are testing the safety of experimental Zika virus vaccines that induced immunity in monkeys and mice. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also plans to start Phase I testing as early as this month of a DNA vaccine, a live-attenuated vaccine and a whole-particle inactivated vaccine.
ABC News (8/1) 
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Research Breakthroughs
Gene therapy prevents muscle wasting in preclinical study
An adeno-associated virus targeted at heart and skeletal muscle and loaded with the DNA signaling protein Smad7 prevented wasting of skeletal and heart muscle in mice with tumors and built muscle in cancer-free mice. The Smad7 protein blocked the signaling proteins Smad2 and Smad3, which are activated by muscle-wasting hormones.
United Press International (7/28) 
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Experimental drug prevents HIV infection, transmission in mice
An experimental drug, 4'-Ethynyl-2-fluoro-2'deoxyadenosine or EFdA, prevented HIV infection as well as oral and vaginal transmission in humanized mouse models exposed multiple times to high doses of the virus, researchers reported in the Journal of the Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. The researchers will run more tests to determine the optimal dosage and the duration of the drug's protective effects.
Nature World News (8/2) 
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Experimental tissue glue closes dog's oronasal fistula
Veterinary dental surgeon William Rosenblad contacted bioengineer Jeffrey Karp for help when a 10-year-old bulldog's oronasal fistula failed to heal after three unsuccessful surgeries. Karp has developed a biocompatible tissue adhesive that acts as a scaffold and closed the wound.
The Boston Globe (tiered subscription model) (7/27) 
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Study in monkeys might lead to treatment for ASD, epilepsy
Researchers working at the California National Primate Research Center at the University of California at Davis inserted a manufactured gene into the amygdala neurons of four rhesus macaque monkeys, which caused the neurons to produce receptors that would ignore normal chemical signals and instead respond only to a kind of drug that temporarily shuts down the entire brain cell. The method might eventually be used to treat autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia, epilepsy and other conditions in people.
The Sacramento Bee (Calif.) (tiered subscription model) (7/30) 
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Study: Deep-space travels may affect astronauts' cardiovascular health
Study: Deep-space travel may affect astronauts' cardiovascular health
(NASA/Getty Images)
Travels to the moon may have compromised the cardiovascular systems of Apollo astronauts, according to a study published in Scientific Reports. Researchers compared the cardiovascular health of Apollo astronauts and those who had never flown orbital missions, or only experienced low Earth orbit, and they found that the mortality rate due to cardiovascular disease was greater for the Apollo astronauts. Follow-up work in mice suggests radiation may explain the finding.
The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (7/28) 
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Noncoding DNA may be a factor in body shape
Researchers working with mice found that noncoding DNA surrounding the OCT4 gene might help regulate body shape in mice, snakes and people. The research team spliced noncoding snake DNA near OCT4 in normal mouse embryos, which subsequently grew additional spinal cord.
ScienceMag.org (8/1) 
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Other News
Animal Health
Study establishes reference ranges for canine salivary cortisol
Study establishes reference ranges for canine salivary cortisol.
(Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)
Researchers have established reference ranges for cortisol in dog saliva, and their work is reported in Domestic Animal Endocrinology. The study identified predictors of cortisol levels, such as intact status in females, whose levels tend to be higher, and living in a shelter for more than two weeks, which was associated with lower levels than life in a private home.
ScientificAmerican.com (7/27) 
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