Scientists at canine research facilities in the US, Europe, Australia and elsewhere are learning more about dogs' ability to count, read human emotions, discern good instructions from bad and understand the laws of physics. Dog and human brains share structural similarities, and researchers have shown that dogs' self-control breaks down in the same way as in humans.
Scientists at Northwestern University used 3D printing to create a hydrogel scaffold in which they embedded ovarian follicles and implanted the structure into mice whose ovaries had been removed. Once implanted, the follicles grew, the mice ovulated, the eggs were fertilized and each mouse gave birth to at least two pups.
Lyme disease is difficult to diagnose in people and may be underreported, leaving researchers to guess at the rate of infection, but a study assessing the incidence in dogs might help. The nonprofit Companion Animal Parasite Council coordinated the study, published in PLOS ONE, which showed that Lyme disease infection rates in people track closely to the rate in dogs.
Researchers reported in Science Translational Medicine that an assay tested in nonhuman primates detects microRNAs in blood and other bodily fluids that rise or fall in response to radiation exposure. The polymerase chain reaction test is comparatively inexpensive and could be used to triage victims of a nuclear disaster.
Hereditary cerebral cavernous malformations are blood-filled bubbles that protrude from veins in the brain, and a study published in Nature suggests that antibiotics and fecal transplants might treat the condition. Researchers found that a genetic defect allows lipopolysaccharides carried in Gram-negative bacteria in the gut to cause veins in the brain to form blood bubbles, and antibiotics and microbiome replacement prevented or halted disease progression in lab mice.
University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine researchers mapped the genomes of 50 cats, and they plan to continue until they've reached 99 felines, all in an effort to identify and prevent genetic diseases such as progressive retinal atrophy and Niemann-Pick disorder. "Continued collaboration with geneticists and veterinarians could lead to the rapid discovery of undiagnosed genetic conditions in cats," said study lead Leslie Lyons, noting that testing can uncover conditions early, when they may be more readily treated.
Scientists still do not know exactly why people and animals yawn, but the fact that yawning is highly contagious hints at a social or communicative function, researchers say. Recent studies of chimpanzees and dogs back up the hypothesis.
Proposed Environmental Protection Agency rules on how to prioritize testing of potentially toxic substances have sparked opposition from animal rights activists who warn implementation will mean more animal testing, a view that positions them in opposition to a group of consumer environmental health advocates. Andy Igrejas, director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, says animal testing is critical to keeping people safe, and EPA scientific advisory board member Holly Davies says any animal testing involved with classifying agents will be valuable.
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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.