Bacteria dominate newly drawn tree of life | Experimental antiviral shows promise in halting FIP | Low doses of lithium prolong life of fruit flies, study finds
April 13, 2016
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Bacteria dominate newly drawn tree of life
Scientists at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Waterloo in Canada studied more than 3,000 species and pieced together bits of DNA to update the tree of life. The tree is dominated by bacteria, while all the eukaryotes are represented on a slender twig. The work is published in the journal Nature Microbiology.
The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (4/11) 
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Research Breakthroughs
Experimental antiviral shows promise in halting FIP
Cats with advanced feline infectious peritonitis recovered fully after being treated with an experimental antiviral, Kansas State University researchers reported in PLOS One. The treatment blocks feline coronavirus replication and stops the progression of disease, the researchers say.
Discovery (4/11) 
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Low doses of lithium prolong life of fruit flies, study finds
Low doses of lithium may help prolong life, according to researchers who gave the drug to fruit flies, extending their lives by about 16%. The drug appears to block a chemical in the brain called GSK-3, according to findings published in Cell Reports. "The response we've seen in flies to low doses of lithium is very encouraging, and our next step is to look at targeting GSK-3 in more complex animals with the aim of eventually developing a drug regime to test in humans," said study leader Linda Partridge.
BBC (4/7) 
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Mouse study points to genetic basis for autism
Removing the BRINP1 gene from mice produced symptoms of both autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and the finding could inform future treatments and diagnostic methods for autism spectrum disorder and ADHD in people. Humans also have the BRINP1 gene, which is involved with production of a protein that is highly expressed in the brain. The study is described in the journal Molecular Autism.
The Age (Melbourne, Australia) (4/10) 
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Scar tissue might encourage healing of spinal cord injuries
Scar-forming cells called astrocytes might encourage nerve cell regeneration after spinal cord injuries, researchers reported in the journal Nature. The study in mice showed that axonal regrowth was reduced in injured spinal cords when they interfered with development of astrocyte scars.
Medical News Today (4/11) 
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Physicians report successful esophagus regeneration
A man who suffered paralysis after a car crash is able to swallow and eat normally after undergoing a novel regenerative procedure that had shown success in dogs but was new to humans. Esophageal stents were covered with skin tissue and sprayed with a gel made using autologous blood designed to attract stem cells. The regrown esophagus resembles a normal organ, and there have been no complications since the stents were removed.
SeattlePI.com/The Associated Press (4/8) 
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Cyclodextrin shows promise against cholesterol
Cyclodextrin reduced arterial plaque and dissolved cholesterol crystals in mice, researchers reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine. The compound is used to help dissolve and deliver drugs and is being studied as a treatment for Niemann-Pick Type C, a rare genetic disease.
Ars Technica (4/7),  The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (4/6) 
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Other News
Animal Health
Medically important Gila monster could be threatened
An enzyme in Gila monster venom formed the basis of the diabetes drug exenatide, and there could be more of medical importance to learn from the species, but the Gila monster population may be in danger. Exenatide is one of numerous treatments derived from animals, and understanding their molecular makeup is critical for research, experts say. Computational biologist Melissa Wilson Sayres aims to sequence the lizard's genome in an effort to learn more about the ecology and genetic health of the population as well as potentially yield new medical discoveries.
The Daily Beast (4/8) 
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FBR News
NABR webinar with new head of APHIS Animal Care
FBR's partner organization, the National Association for Biomedical Research, is offering a special opportunity to "meet" the new Deputy Administrator for Animal Care at USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on Tuesday, May 3. During this webinar, Ms. Bernadette Juarez will present her vision for Animal Care, answer questions, and discuss the future of regular inspection. Space is going very quickly, so please register today.
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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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