Conference explores public support, transparency in animal research | Researchers build biobank for SIV, other disease research | Enzyme depletion shows promise for reversing Alzheimer's disease in mice
Veterinarians, scientists, communications staff and lab administrators from North America and Europe explored ways to build public trust in animal research at the recent Basel Declaration Society conference, discussing the importance of nonhuman primates in neurology research, myths about animal research and more. FBR President Matthew R. Bailey spoke at the event, noting a shift in animal rights activism "from extreme activities to public policy activities." Bailey urged the research community to "stop operating based on fear" and embrace transparency and openness around their work.
Anthropology professor Trudy Turner's study of monkeys began with population genetics studies that led to a larger study of simian immunodeficiency virus, which is similar to HIV but does not cause similarly devastating symptoms. Researchers have build a substantial biobank, and the international study might lead to insights about HIV as well as other diseases that affect human and nonhuman primates.
Mouse models of Alzheimer's disease engineered to have gradual beta-secretase enzyme depletion no longer had pre-existing amyloid plaques at 10 months old, and they demonstrated improved cognitive skills and learning behavior. The findings, reported in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, suggest that early treatment with BACE1-inhibitors, which are being developed, might impede plaque growth and remove existing plaques, said researcher Riqiang Yan.
A vaccine made from induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs, has been effective in preventing cancer in mice, according to findings published in Cell Stem Cell. The irradiated iPSCs blocked breast, lung and skin cancers in the mice and kept tumors removed by surgery from coming back, researchers say.
Scientists have created a second successful human-animal hybrid embryo comprising 99.99% sheep cells and 0.01% human cells by count, moving scientists one step closer to being able to grow human organs in animals for transplant. Only about 2,000 people in the US get heart transplants each year out of more than 100,000 Americans who need them, and 22 people on the US organ transplant list die each day.
Ctenocephalides felis, or the domestic cat flea, may be developing resistance to commonly used insecticides, but until now, progress on a vaccine has been limited. Researchers recently used transcriptomics and proteomics data from C. felis to identify protective recombinant antigens, developed a subcutaneous vaccine and reported in Parasites & Vectors that the antigens could be used alone or in combination in vaccines to control cat fleas.
Cloning had become somewhat normalized in the two decades since Dolly the sheep was cloned from an adult sheep's mammary gland cell, but news that scientists in China had cloned two monkeys renewed debate on the ethics of cloning. The scientists in China say that cloned nonhuman primates can advance research, but cloning is most likely to be used in the future to produce better livestock, says cloning expert Robin Lovell-Badge.
The NIH allocated $5 million more than a year ago for a five-year clinical trial of fluconazole as an early treatment for community-acquired pneumonia linked to coccidioidomycosis, or valley fever, but only 48 people have enrolled. The antifungal drug is frequently used off-label to treat valley fever despite a lack of clinical evidence, and researchers plan to make participation in the study easier in an effort to boost recruitment.
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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.