Zika virus linked to reduced testosterone, sperm count in mice | Animal research furthers understanding of human virome | Tissue donations, technology improve understanding of pediatric brain cancer
November 2, 2016
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Zika virus linked to reduced testosterone, sperm count in mice
Zika virus linked to reduced testosterone, sperm count in mice.
(Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images)
Researchers reported in Nature that Zika virus infection was associated with reduced testosterone level, sperm count and testes size in male mice, as well as other changes that might have implications for humans. The virus was detected in mouse testes within one week of infection, and Sertoli cells, which promote sperm cell development, were dead or dying within two weeks of infection.
CNN (10/31),  STAT (10/31) 
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Research Breakthroughs
Animal research furthers understanding of human virome
Advances in genomic sciences have allowed researchers to study the human virome, or viruses that live in and on the human body and may be harmless or might play a role in unexplained diseases. The effects of a ubiquitous group of viruses called anelloviruses is unknown, but scientists have detected the viruses in monkeys and rodents and are studying anelloviruses' pathogenicity in animals to gain a clearer understanding of implications for humans.
The Scientist online (11/1) 
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Tissue donations, technology improve understanding of pediatric brain cancer
Tissue donations by families who have lost children to brain cancer and advances in gene-sequencing technology are brightening the outlook for children with brain cancer. Researchers have used the donated tumor tissue to generate cell lines and mouse models for study, and results from their basic science studies reveal reasons why promising treatments have failed in clinical trials.
ScientificAmerican.com (10/28) 
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New skin graft technique shows promise for healing burns
Split thickness skin grafts combined with engineered stem cells significantly improved burn wound puckering and contracture and preserved hair follicles in rats, according to research published in Theranostics. The researchers say their next step is to develop more robust graft sheets and test them in pigs.
United Press International (10/28) 
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Scientists refine stem cell differentiation for fighting brain degeneration
Stem cell engineering and grafting of mesencephalic dopamine neurons showed promise for brain repair in animal models of Parkinson's disease and could be followed by human testing in a few years. Scientists reported in Cell Stem Cell that they identified a set of markers associated with high dopamine yield and graft function after cells were transplanted, allowing researchers to produce pure populations of high-quality dopamine neurons for more consistent results needed for clinical use.
Medical News Today (10/31),  United Press International (10/28) 
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Naturally occurring enzyme slows aging process in mice
Normally aging mice given infusions of nicotinamide mononucleotide produced more nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide and avoided some changes associated with aging such as weight gain, diminished visual acuity and high blood glucose levels. NMN occurs in broccoli, cucumbers, cabbage and edamame, among other foods, and the researchers will now test the effects of supplements in humans. Study results are published in Cell Metabolism.
Time.com (10/27),  Tech Times (10/29) 
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New gene-editing method may be more precise than CRISPR
Scientists described in Nature Communications a gene-editing technique that is less simple than CRISPR-Cas9 but may be less likely to miss its target. The researchers injected synthetic peptide nucleic acids designed to bind with DNA directly into the bloodstream of a mouse with the blood disease thalassemia, creating a strand of genetic material in a triple helix conformation, then they deployed a DNA patch containing a normal hemoglobin gene to excise the strand.
The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (10/26),  Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (10/26) 
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Other News
Animal Health
CDC documents human influenza infections linked to swine exposure
CDC documents human influenza infections linked to swine exposure.
(Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
Eighteen people became infected with a variant swine influenza virus in August after attending state fairs in Ohio or Michigan where they had direct or indirect contact with swine, the CDC reports. Sixteen of the 18 samples had genetic material from human and swine influenzas, an indication that reassortment occurred, and most of the cases involved children.
CNN (10/27) 
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