Human and non-human primates have a functional larynx and vocal tract, but the parts of the brain that control and coordinate vocalizations are more developed in humans, and different species of primate have brain signatures that relate directly to vocal repertoire, according to a study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience. The findings might help scientists understand the evolution of complex vocal communication, researcher Jacob Dunn writes.
Elephants have 20 copies of the p53 gene, which encodes a protein that appears to activate LIF6, a previously dormant gene unique to elephants whose protein attacks mitochondria in cells with damaged DNA. The process causes apoptosis and may help explain elephants' resistance to cancer. The findings, published in Cell Reports, might give scientists a better understanding of how cancer develops and clues for treating cancer in people, study co-author Vincent Lynch says.
The study of a retrovirus that infects koalas revealed that the replicated viral DNA adopted new functions or became noncoding DNA, and the finding, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may help scientists understand the function of noncoding DNA in humans. "This means that the koala, a species not usually associated with biomedical breakthroughs, is providing key insights into a process that has shaped 8% of the human genome, and will likely show us what happened millions of years ago when retroviruses first invaded the human genome," said study co-author Alex Greenwood.
Immune system T-cells triggered by bacteria caused retinal damage associated with glaucoma in mice, and blocking autoimmune activity might be a way to treat the eye disease, according to a study published in Nature Communications. "What we learn from the eye can be applied to the brain diseases, and may eventually help develop new methods of treatment and diagnosis," senior co-author Dong Feng Chen said.
Spinal cord neural stem cells were produced from embryonic human pluripotent stem cells by researchers from the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine that could become a possible source of transplantable cells to be used to repair spinal cord injuries. Data on the process tested in rats was published in Nature Methods.
A team of veterinarians borrowed from human medicine to surgically treat a dog's congenital valve defect. Veterinarians at Colorado State University's Veterinary Teaching Hospital, one of the only facilities in the US to perform the minimally invasive technique, performed the surgery, and they also treated an 18-month-old black Lab, the only dog in the world to have two cardiac valves replaced.
Veterinarians at the University of Edinburgh's Royal School of Veterinary Studies have developed a blood test that tracks levels of miR-122, a marker of liver disease in humans, that could lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment of canine liver disease. The veterinarians reported in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine that levels of the molecule were higher in dogs with liver disease than in dogs without it, and the team is developing a testing kit.
Lawyers have filed a lawsuit against the former owner of a severely neglected 8-year-old quarter horse, seeking damages for pain and suffering and at least $100,000 for veterinary care. The horse is named as the plaintiff, and the case is among those attempting to persuade lawmakers and courts to expand the legal view of animals as more than personal property.
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