Rates of cancer diagnoses are rising in dogs and humans, and the parallel trends are facilitating research that may help both species, writes veterinarian Nicole Ehrhart. Scientists learn a lot from pet dogs, whose life spans and heterogenous populations mean insights are often more applicable to humans than those discovered in laboratory animals, and researchers are running 22 Phase I and Phase II comparative oncology trials across the US.
A Zika vaccine candidate developed by researchers with the University of Pennsylvania was found to be effective in protecting mice and monkeys from the virus months after vaccination, according to a study in the journal Nature. Clinical trials could begin in the next 12 to 18 months.
A synthetic adeno-associated virus delivered a gene therapy that restored hearing in mice with Usher syndrome, scientists reported in Nature Biotechnology. Hearing in the profoundly deaf mice was restored to 25 decibels, about equivalent to the level of a whisper.
An injected nonhormonal gel blocked sperm flow in male rhesus macaque monkeys, researchers reported in Basic and Clinical Andrology, and the compound will be tested in men as an alternative to surgical vasectomy. The researchers hope to develop a version of the gel that can be flushed easily from the vas deferens so that the contraceptive effects can be reversed.
Exposure to tobacco smoke residue left on furniture, clothing, walls and other surfaces resulted in lower weight in newborn lab mice as well as changes in blood cell counts in newborn and adult mice. The study, published in Scientific Reports, showed that newborns' weight rebounded after exposure to thirdhand smoke stopped.
The adage "let sleeping dogs lie" might be particularly useful for training, according to research that finds sleep enhances learning and learning deepens sleep in dogs. The study used electroencephalography on dogs that were taught a command right before dozing, and a second phase looked at learning longer term, finding better performance among dogs that slept, walked or played after learning.
Medical research involving animals has led to myriad advances and breakthroughs that save lives, reduce suffering and improve health, and though computer simulations and artificial cell cultures allow for fewer animals to be used, existing technology cannot replace animals in research, write 28 professors, researchers and program leaders at the University of Montana. Strict laws, regulations and policies ensure the welfare of research animals, and researchers use analgesics and anesthesia to minimize discomfort, the scientists note.
The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service removed all inspection reports and enforcement records from its website, citing a "commitment to being transparent, remaining responsive to our stakeholders' informational needs, and maintaining the privacy rights of individuals," but a spokeswoman said the decision is not final. The changes may be related to a lawsuit filed by horse industry stakeholders challenging the legality of publishing enforcement actions, according to a statement from the National Association for Biomedical Research, which notes Freedom of Information Act requests can still be used to access inspection and annual reports.
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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.