Animal researchers debate transparency | Experimental treatment validated in animals offers new hope for deadly diagnosis | Hepatitis C drug protects animal fetuses from Zika; human trials may be next
June 27, 2018
FBR Smartbrief
Top Story
Animal researchers debate transparency
Universities are considering ways to discuss their animal studies, animal researchers continue to engage the public and politicians, and facilities like the Oregon National Primate Research Center are developing outreach programs.
Science (free content) (6/26) 
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Research Breakthroughs
Experimental treatment validated in animals offers new hope for deadly diagnosis
Glioblastoma is a dismal diagnosis, but patients like Stephanie Hopper, who received her diagnosis at age 20, are benefiting from an experimental treatment that involves infusion with a modified polio vaccine. After three years of treatment with the vaccine, which was first validated in animal studies, 21% of patients studied were still alive, compared with 4% of similar patients who did not get the injection, and in some cases tumor growth has stopped, while two patients show no evidence of any cancer. Hopper, whose medical team includes FBR Board Vice Chairman Dr. Henry Friedman, is alive six years after her treatment, married and working as a nurse.
NBC News (6/27),  CNN (6/26) 
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Hepatitis C drug protects animal fetuses from Zika; human trials may be next
Hepatitis C drug protects animal fetuses from Zika; human trials may be next
(Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Alysson Muotri's stem cell lab at the University of California at San Diego found genetic similarities between hepatitis C and Zika viruses in the regions they use to replicate, and when the team tested the hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir in animals, the drug protected brain cells and developing fetuses from Zika. Moutri said the results have encouraged the team to move toward clinical trials.
WLS-TV (Chicago) (6/25) 
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Scientists find link between herpesvirus and Alzheimer's disease
Scientists who were studying gene targets in Alzheimer's disease found an association between the disease and herpesvirus, supporting an old theory that viral infections gradually destroy neurological processes. The researchers found high levels of HHV6a and HHV7 genetic material in Alzheimer's-affected brains, and the viruses appeared to disrupt the Mir155 gene, which, when lacking in mice, caused amyloid plaque accumulation, researchers reported in Neuron.
New Atlas (6/21),  ABC News/The Associated Press (6/21) 
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Animal studies advance autism research
Findings from studies involving non-human primates and mice have shed light on the important roles played by oxytocin and arginine vasopressin in social behaviors and potentially autism spectrum disorder. Mouse models have been beneficial for this type of work, but research in highly social rhesus monkeys may move scientists closer to work that applies to humans, including a recent study that found AVP levels were lower in less social monkeys than those that were highly social -- findings that translated to human children.
Psychology Today (6/23) 
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Enterically coated insulin pill lowers blood glucose levels in rats
Enterically coated insulin pill lowers blood glucose levels in rats
(Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images)
A safe, effective insulin pill would be life-changing for the millions of people worldwide who rely on insulin injections to control their diabetes, but insulin is easily degraded by stomach acids and enzymes, complicating efforts to develop an oral form. Now researchers report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that a liquid formulation of insulin encased in an enterically coated capsule reduced blood glucose levels in rats, and the researchers will perform longer-term safety studies and efficacy testing in larger animals, says senior author Samir Mitragotri.
CNN (6/25) 
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Other News
Animal Health
Diabetic koala benefits from human blood glucose monitor
Diabetic koala benefits from human blood glucose monitor
(Guillaume Souvant/AFP/Getty Images)
A diabetic koala named Quincy from San Diego Zoo Safari Park has been equipped with a monitor that transmits blood glucose readings every five minutes, sparing the animal multiple daily blood draws. Athena Philis-Tsimikas, Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute corporate vice president, said working with Quincy is akin to working with patients who cannot verbalize, and because koalas absorb insulin like humans do, the knowledge gained from the monitor might improve knowledge of human diabetes.
The San Diego Union-Tribune (tiered subscription model) (6/25) 
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Genetically engineered pigs immune to PRRS
Editing a section of pigs' DNA left them immune to the virus that causes porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, a disease that causes spontaneous abortion and breathing problems for which there is no effective vaccine or treatment. The technology could improve herd health and reduce the need for antibiotic use, experts said.
The Guardian (London) (6/20) 
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Raccoons with access to human food get fat, hyperglycemic
Raccoons that have easy access to human food waste tend to weigh more and have higher blood glucose levels than other raccoons, potentially leading to metabolic syndrome, obesity and diabetes in raccoons that live long enough, researchers reported in Conservation Physiology. The researchers will explore whether access to human food affects raccoons' reproduction and evolution.
CBC News (Canada) (6/23) 
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Policy News
Senate panel recommends $2B boost to NIH budget
The Senate Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies subcommittee recommended increasing the NIH's fiscal 2019 budget by $2 billion to $39.1 billion, including $425 million more for Alzheimer's disease research, an additional $29 million for the BRAIN Initiative and $86 million more for the All of Us precision medicine study. A House Appropriations Committee bill released earlier in June would increase the NIH's budget to $38.3 billion.
GenomeWeb Daily News (free registration) (6/26),  Science (free content) (6/26) 
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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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