Animal lab fast-tracking Zika research with data sharing | Database opens portal into real-time brain activity of mice | New cancer treatment set for human trials
July 20, 2016
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Animal lab fast-tracking Zika research with data sharing
After the devastating Ebola and Zika virus outbreaks, researchers moved into high gear to save human lives, University of Wisconsin researcher David O’Connor among them. His team took the unusual step of sharing results online in real time, helping advance work in other labs, avoiding duplication of certain experiments and rapidly disseminating valuable information, including where the virus hides out in fetuses, the effect of co-infection with dengue, whether previous infection is protective and how long Zika circulates in pregnant females.
The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (7/18) 
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Research Breakthroughs
Database opens portal into real-time brain activity of mice
Allen Institute for Brain Science researchers captured video of firing neurons in living mice, and the footage is part of a neurological database called the Allen Brain Observatory. Researchers genetically altered mice so certain neurons would fluoresce when active, then they played videos for the mice and recorded brain response. The scientists hope their work will add to knowledge about human brain disorders such as Alzheimer's and schizophrenia.
The Seattle Times (tiered subscription model) (7/13) 
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New cancer treatment set for human trials
New cancer treatment set for human trials.
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Human testing of an oncolytic virus that showed promise in mice and cats is underway. Researchers at Ontario Veterinary College developed the technique, which involves an initial injection of a virus that kills cancer cells, followed by a second infusion in an area of the spleen where memory immune cells are sequestered, sparking a particularly robust immune response that targets cancer when cells are weakened.
CBC.ca (Canada) (7/15) 
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Findings suggest fish can be model for studying arthritis
University of Southern California researchers found ray-finned aquatic species including zebrafish have synovial joints in their jaws and fins similar to those seen in mammals, and they produce a lubricating protein that when blocked allows arthritis to develop. The scientists hope to determine whether the zebrafish's well-known regenerative capabilities include its synovial tissues.
Nature World News (7/18) 
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Study shows how anesthesia unconsciousness sets in
Study shows how anesthesia unconsciousness sets in.
(Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Anesthesia brings on unconsciousness in stages, with brain activity flickering as the drugs take effect, according to a study on monkeys published in the Journal of Neuroscience. Researchers implanted electrodes inside the brains of macaque monkeys to see how anesthesia shut down consciousness.
Science News (7/19) 
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Study hints at dangers of constant, bright lights
In a paper published in Current Biology, Leiden University researchers report that exposure to constant light was associated with premature aging of mice, disrupted circadian rhythms and other health problems. Mice exposed to artificial bright light around the clock for 24 weeks had bone loss, muscle weakness and inflammation, and they demonstrated abnormal brain synchronicity that resolved when the animals were returned to normal dark-light cycles.
ScientificAmerican.com/Nature (7/15) 
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Techniques generate 12 cell types from stem cells in days
Stanford University scientists reported in the journal Cell they can produce 12 cell types, including bone and cardiac muscle, from human stem cells in days rather than weeks or months. Their work builds on the use of signaling factors to guide the development of animal stem cells.
HealthDay News (7/14) 
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Other News
Animal Health
Researchers call for disease surveillance in urban rats
Rats may be something like sponges, acquiring pathogens as they travel around cities where they live alongside humans, so scientists argue in a Frontiers in Public Health paper that research should focus more heavily on disease surveillance in the animals. The paper describes methods used in New York City to trap and test rats for infectious diseases, an approach they say should be adapted elsewhere to better characterize the common but poorly understood animals and the diseases they carry.
STAT (7/14) 
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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.
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