Immunosuppressant might extend healthy life spans of dogs, people | Partnership between med school, zoo improves veterinary, human health care | Studying mini-antibodies in shark, camel blood might lead to new treatments
Early results from the Dog Aging Project, which is testing the anti-aging effects of the immunosuppressant drug rapamycin, suggest that the drug may improve heart function without raising blood glucose levels. The researchers are enrolling 50 dogs in the next phase of the study, which will measure heart function, activity levels, cognition and memory.
The One Health Clinical Elective partnership between Zoo New England and Harvard Medical School offers students four-week veterinary medicine rotations at the Boston-area Franklin Park and Stone zoos to learn more about the intersections among human, animal and environmental health. The students also share current knowledge and bring insights that improve veterinary care, said Eric Baitchman, veterinarian and Zoo New England vice president of animal health and conservation.
For the past two decades, immunologist Helen Dooley has collected a few milliliters of shark blood every couple of weeks to study tiny antibodies in the blood that lack light protein chains. Learning how sharks' mini-antibodies work, along with her peers' research on nanobodies from camels, llamas and various other animals, could lead to new treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, lupus, brain cancer and some rare diseases.
Electrodes placed on the desheathed vagus nerves of mice that were subsequently injected with tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-1 beta transmitted data to an algorithm that was trained to differentiate between signals from each cytokine as well as mice that had not received a cytokine injection. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrates the potential for monitoring chronic diseases using nerve implants.
Focused ultrasound shrank a malignant sarcoma on the foreleg of a 9-year-old pet cocker spaniel in a clinical trial, and the rest of the mass was surgically excised, preventing amputation. Focused ultrasound is also being tested in combination with antibiotics to accelerate healing of hygromas and prevent reinfection in dogs and cats.
High levels of malaria parasite Plasmodium vivax were found in the bone marrow of 14 monkeys that died of malaria infections. The research suggests the need for "new diagnostic tools to estimate parasite burden in the marrow from markers in the bloodstream, as direct bone marrow diagnosis is not feasible," said Matthias Marti, lead author of the study in the journal mBio.
A proposed bill in the House would ban the use of cats and kittens in USDA-funded research that would cause pain or stress after reports cast a spotlight on toxoplasmosis experiments at the Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory. Researchers make "every effort to minimize the number of cats used to produce eggs required to research one of the most widespread parasites in the world. The cats are essential to the success of this critical research," a spokesperson for the USDA's Agricultural Research Service said.
Veterinarian Michael Lairmore, dean of the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and a member of FBR's board of directors, was appointed to serve a five-year term on the NIH Council of Councils and is the only trained veterinarian on the panel. Dr. Lairmore's research focuses on viral causes of cancer, and he and his colleagues on the council will advise the NIH director on research priorities.
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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.