Mouse studies expand understanding of human speech disorders | Monkeys have vocal tract, but not the brains, for speech | Blocking activity of cell-surface protein might impede metastasis
December 14, 2016
FBR Smartbrief
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Mouse studies expand understanding of human speech disorders
Mice chatter and sing in a pitch that is usually too high for the human ear to detect, but researchers are now studying mouse vocalizations in an effort to better understand human speech and speech disorders. Mice have been genetically engineered to express mutations associated with human speech disorders, including stuttering and Tourette's syndrome, and the research may lead to new treatments.
The Atlantic online (12/12) 
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Research Breakthroughs
Monkeys have vocal tract, but not the brains, for speech
Monkeys' vocal tracts are capable of speech, but their brains aren't wired for it, according to a new study published in Science Advances. Researchers studied X-rays of rhesus macaque monkeys making sounds to create a 3D rendering of the vocal tract and modeled sounds monkeys could make.
The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (12/9) 
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Blocking activity of cell-surface protein might impede metastasis
Blocking activity of cell-surface protein might impede metastasis
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A cell-surface protein from some cancer cells that helps cells metabolize fatty acids might be involved in the metastasis of ovarian, bladder, lung and other cancers, according to a study published in Nature. When researchers implanted human oral cancer cells in mice and tested two antibodies that neutralized the protein, the spread of cancer stopped, metastasized lesions in lymph nodes shrank, and in some cases, the cancer went into remission.
Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model) (12/7) 
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Anxiety in mice relieved by transplanted brain cells, training
Transplanting cells from mouse embryos into the brains of fearful adult mice alleviated anxiety when paired with training to ease fear response, according to findings published in Neuron. The study could help lead to treatments for people with post-traumatic stress disorder or other kinds of debilitating anxiety.
New Scientist (free content) (12/8) 
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fMRI sheds light on neural activity in resting mice
Researchers from Columbia University who used resting-state functional MRI found that mice had synchronized, networklike neural activity, with each neural signal prompting slight blood flow increases, during rest. The study, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides new validation for the technique, which can shed light on functional connections and organization in the brain. (12/12) 
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Cells with additional chromosomes may help slow cancer growth
Cells with an extra chromosome may help slow the progress of cancer, according to findings presented at the American Society for Cell Biology meeting. Lab-produced cells with an additional chromosome grew more slowly and produced smaller tumors in mice, researchers say.
Science News (12/7) 
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Study: Humans' large brains may be due to tiny DNA change
A small change, or point mutation, found in DNA may have altered the function of a gene that expanded the neocortex in humans after the split from chimpanzees 5 million to 6 million years ago, a study published in Science Advances suggests. "A point mutation in a human-specific gene gave it a function that allows expansion of the relevant stem cells that make a brain big," said study leader Wieland Huttner.
BBC (12/7) 
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Animal Health
Canine studies turn to crowdsourcing, data sharing for maximum benefit
Researchers from Cornell, Duke and the University of Massachusetts Medical School are asking dog owners to contribute to studies about canine genetics, personality and behaviors as they seek to unravel secrets of canine health and behavior. The studies use crowdsourcing to obtain adequate sample sizes, and researchers plan to share data with other scientists to facilitate further study of behavior and diseases that affect dogs and humans.
The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (12/13) 
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