Antibodies to Ebola show promise in animal testing | Rat study advances development of dissolving electronic biomedical implant | Technique improves vision in rats with retinitis pigmentosa
January 20, 2016
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Antibodies to Ebola show promise in animal testing
Ebola virus
(Handout/Getty Images)
Ninety-five percent of human Ebola deaths between 1976 and 2012 were caused by the Sudan and Zaire forms of Ebola, and researchers have created antibodies that protected mice from those forms of the deadly zoonotic virus. Biochemist and research author Jonathan Lai called the findings "encouraging" and said the approach must be validated in nonhuman primates before it is ready to be tested in humans. STAT (1/13)
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Research Breakthroughs
Rat study advances development of dissolving electronic biomedical implant
Tiny, biocompatible implants can capture information from body systems, wirelessly transmit that data and then dissolve harmlessly into the body, according to researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In rats, the devices -- about the size of a grain of rice -- were implanted against the skull under the skin, and the system accurately recorded temperature and intracranial pressure. If effective in humans, the approach could be applicable across a range of conditions, obviating the need for cumbersome monitoring devices and surgical removal that exposes the patient to bleeding and infection risks. CNN (1/18)
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Technique improves vision in rats with retinitis pigmentosa
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center scientists used CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing to improve vision in rats with retinitis pigmentosa -- a congenital condition of the retina that often causes blindness. "This is the first time CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing has been used to prevent vision loss in a living animal," said researcher Clive Svendsen. "It is a truly remarkable result and paves the way for more exciting studies and translation to the clinic in the future." Gizmag (1/14)
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Genetic changes may play role in schizophrenia, autism
New research published in Cell Reports links mutations in the MDGA1 gene to abnormal prenatal brain development, suggesting a genetic pathway for development of brain disorders such as autism, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Researchers disabled the gene in mice, sparking abnormal migration and early death of neuron precursor cells, leading to deficits in cerebral cortex neuron numbers. When the gene is altered rather than disabled, precursor cells still do not function properly. Brain studies in children have linked cerebral cortex organization to autism. Forbes (1/18)
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Western diet may be depleting the microbiome of the human gut
(Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Research suggests low-fiber diets such as those increasingly adopted by humans deplete gut microbiome diversity, and scientists suggest the change is happening too quickly for humans to adapt. Stanford University microbiologist Justin Sonnenburg gave mice the same microbiome, fed them a high-fiber diet and then switched some mice to a low-fiber diet. The low-fiber group lost many gut bacteria, some permanently, and passed the altered microbiome to subsequent generations. Reinstating a high-fiber diet didn't restore all the bacteria, but fecal transplants did. The Atlantic online (1/13)
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Technique might allow more targeted delivery of cancer drug
Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that using an exosome coating derived from the white blood cells of mice allowed delivery of paclitaxel directly to drug-resistant cancer cells. The targeted delivery allowed scientists to use a 50-fold lower dose. The treatment, called exoPXT, was also labeled with a dye and tested as a diagnostic tool, which identified malignant cells in animal models with drug-resistant lung cancer. The findings were reported in the journal Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine. Gizmag (1/14)
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Early Alzheimer's may be detectable in urine
A study published in Scientific Reports found that Alzheimer's disease is associated with genetic changes that lead to chemical changes in urine, potentially rendering the disease detectable before other signs appear. The odor-causing urine compounds detected in mice might allow detection of disease in humans, and researchers say the findings suggest a pathway to explore for early diagnosis of other neurologic disorders. Science World Report (1/14)
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Animal Health
Chimpanzee study: Social life may influence gastrointestinal microflora
An eight-year study of 40 wild Kasekela chimpanzees in Tanzania found that social interaction affects the volume and diversity of the gut microbiome. Intestinal bacterial diversity was more robust in chimps when they came together during the wet season to forage for food, compared with during the dry season when they are more scattered, and the more time chimps spent together, the more similar their microbiome profiles. The study, reported in Science Advances, may have implications for chimpanzee immune function. PBS (1/15)
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