Without adequate preclinical studies, many Ebola treatments fail | Blocking brain protein might prevent stroke damage, mouse study finds | Agent could revolutionize cancer surgery
 
January 13, 2016
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Without adequate preclinical studies, many Ebola treatments fail
Liberian child with health care worker.
(John Moore/Getty Images)
As the West African Ebola outbreak peaked, health experts were grasping for any medication that might save lives, rushing treatments into human trials without the usual vetting in animals, and many of those treatments failed. Blood donations from Ebola survivors, brincidofovir and TKM-Ebola all proved ineffective. However, ZMapp continues to show promise, and two unnamed drugs successfully combated Ebola in nonhuman primates, including one that worked with Ebola-infected monkeys, all of which survived after treatment. CNN (1/11)
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Research Breakthroughs
Blocking brain protein might prevent stroke damage, mouse study finds
Inhibiting prolyl hydroxylase domain proteins in brain cells after a brain infarction protects against oxidative damage, according to a study published in Cell Metabolism. The researchers first observed how PHD1 responds to oxygen and nutrient deficits in mice. Next, they demonstrated that mice lacking PHD1 mounted natural protections after a stroke, including creating new pathways for sugar consumption in the presence of low oxygen. Blocking PHD1 in normal mice using pharmacologic agents was protective, the researchers report. MedicalDaily.com (1/8)
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Agent could revolutionize cancer surgery
Health care.
(Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Researchers testing an agent called LUM015 found the probe illuminates malignant cells when used with an imaging device, helping surgeons more precisely detect tumor margins in real time to ensure more precise, complete removal of cancers. Studies in mice with soft tissue sarcoma showed the drug was safe and effective for pinpointing cancer, and subsequent tests in humans supported those findings. The research, reported in Science Translational Medicine, could change sarcoma treatment significantly if additional research supports initial findings, experts said. Time.com (1/7), PhysiciansBriefing.com/HealthDay News (1/8), HealthImaging.com (1/7)
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New ways to slow cancer cell proliferation show promise in mice
Salk Institute researchers documented increased survival time in mice with the deadly brain tumor glioblastoma multiforme using genetic targets and pharmacologic agents. Those diagnosed with the disease often have just over a year to live, and little progress has been made in care. Researchers were able to use a genetic tool to limit the activity of an enzyme that plays a role in tumor growth, and then developed a pharmacologic approach that would have a similar effect. In mice, survival was extended by three months, a substantial period for an animal that generally lives just two years. MedicalDaily.com (1/8)
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Study traces repair of blood-brain barrier, but blood thinners may compromise the process
When the blood-brain barrier is breached, certain receptors trigger microglia to repair the damage, often restoring the barrier within less than 30 minutes in mouse models, new research finds. The findings shed new light on how the blood-brain barrier is preserved as well as ways that process might be compromised. The researchers say some blood-thinning agents that target the same damage-sensing receptors on platelets in an effort to prevent strokes could be inadvertently preventing blood-brain barrier repair after a stroke. HealthDay News (1/12)
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What Do You Think?
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Animal Health
Simple solution helps resolve serious illness in lab mice
Veterinarian Sean Adams of Stanford University discovered that a two-minute nail trim stopped laboratory mice from aggravating ulcerative dermatitis lesions, allowing the condition to be cured in most cases. Ulcerative dermatitis, an itchy infection that afflicts up to 21% of lab mice, leads to morbidity in the animals and early, unplanned euthanasia. But Adams found that animals could be restrained in a simple device for nail trims, yielding less expensive and more effective treatment than topical medication alone. Nature World News (1/11)
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America's animal obesity problem snowballing
Dog
(Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
America's pets are obese, and there's no sign that the trend is slowing, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, which reports that 53% of US dogs and 58% of US cats are overweight. And pet insurer Nationwide reports that claims for obesity-linked conditions and diseases increased 10% in the past two years. Excess weight causes health problems such as arthritis, bladder problems, kidney disease and diabetes. Veterinarian Jeff Werber says educating owners about proper pet nutrition and exercise is the best prevention. CBS News (1/12)
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Animal Rights Activity
Animal activists possibly stall chimpanzees' move to sanctuary
Animal rights activists may have delayed the transfer of two chimpanzees from a research facility to a sanctuary in their failed effort to have the animals legally declared as people. Two State University of New York at Stony Brook chimpanzees were reportedly destined for sanctuary retirement, but legal wrangling complicated the situation, and in December they were moved back to the New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana. The Nonhuman Rights Project has said it will refocus its effort on pressuring Louisiana's university system and public officials on the matter. ScienceMag.org (1/8)
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