Researchers at the FDA have developed a mouse model that, as a newborn, is susceptible to Zika virus and develops neurological symptoms within 12 days of exposure but eventually recovers. The model provides a critical new tool for studying how Zika replicates and spreads in the body as well as its long-term effects, said Daniela Verthelyi, chief of the FDA Laboratory of Immunology.
Sexually transmitted Zika virus might go undetected in women due to a delayed immune response in the vagina, allowing the virus more time to infect the fetus if the woman is pregnant, according to a mouse study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. Mice infected vaginally did not mount an immune response until about a week after infection, when the virus had spread to lymphoid tissues, and though the mice later cleared the virus, traces remained in the vagina.
A new long-acting capsule remained in the stomachs of pigs delivering the antiparasitic, malaria-preventing drug ivermectin for two weeks, according to a study in the journal Science Translational Medicine. Researchers said the technology could have applications in delivering drugs for HIV, tuberculosis and dementia.
Scientists have synthesized batrachotoxin, a potent compound secreted by golden poison dart frogs, and they plan to use it in studies of how nerves conduct electricity and influence cardiac, pain and other pathways. The research also might lead to treatments for diseases that involve malfunction of the proteins the toxin targets.
Clumps of a protein associated with Parkinson's disease moved from the gut into the brains of mice, scientists reported at a recent Society for Neuroscience meeting. Synthetic alpha-synuclein injected into the stomachs and intestines of mice apparently induced formation of new clumps from naturally occurring alpha-synuclein, and the clumps migrated to the brain stem and then the midbrain, and the mice's motor skills began to decline.
As shark numbers dwindle, the need to understand and monitor reproduction has become more pressing, so biologist James Gelsleichter has been catching sharks, conducting abdominal ultrasounds to check for pregnancy and drawing blood in an effort to develop a pregnancy test. The search hasn't turned up a hormonal marker of pregnancy, so the team has turned to protein mapping, which is showing some possible differences between pregnant and nonpregnant sharks.
The World Health Organization has lifted its global health emergency designation for the Zika virus, prompting concerns from some public health experts that the move could stall investments on research and preparedness efforts. However, the CDC said that the WHO's declaration doesn't reduce the urgency of developing Zika vaccines and diagnostics or of understanding its health risks on fetuses and infants.
Air Europa and Iberia Airlines stopped transporting laboratory animals to the Canary Islands from mainland Spain, and some members of Spain's Parliament are urging the government to step in. Research on the islands has been suspended or delayed, particularly projects involving transgenic mice, and experts say scientific progress will suffer.
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