Researchers excise HIV DNA from animal tissue | Brain injection puts diabetic mice in remission | Surgeons in China restore sight with porcine cornea transplants
May 25, 2016
FBR Smartbrief
Top Story
Researchers excise HIV DNA from animal tissue
HIV-positive infant.
HIV-positive infant. (Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/Getty Images)
Scientists at Temple University have deleted HIV DNA from the tissue of rats and mice using gene-editing technology, according to new research that could lay the groundwork for eliminating hidden reservoirs of disease that remain in people treated with antiviral drugs. Researcher Kamel Khalili said the approach could be particularly useful in areas where access to health care facilities is poor. Additional animal trials are planned, and human trials could be on the horizon, as well. (5/19),  The Independent (London) (tiered subscription model) (5/20),  KYW-TV (Philadelphia) (5/21) 
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Research Breakthroughs
Brain injection puts diabetic mice in remission
Obese mice and rats with type 2 diabetes that received a single injection of mouse fibroblast growth factor 1 into their brain ventricles entered long-term remission, researchers reported in Nature Medicine. The mice's blood glucose levels stabilized and remained at normal levels for 17 weeks, and the change was not due to weight loss, the researchers reported. The effect was similar to that seen after bariatric surgery, the authors noted. The study highlights the role of the brain in a disease for which research often focuses on other organs.
Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model) (5/23) 
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Surgeons in China restore sight with porcine cornea transplants
Surgeons in China have performed more than 200 pig-to-human cornea transplants since the government approved the procedure on an experimental basis. Eight million Chinese are blind, and about half those patients lost their vision to cornea disease. For such patients, a transplant is the only way to restore vision. The porcine corneas are taken from animals raised for meat, and the tissue is used as a scaffold that is populated with cells from the patient.
BBC (5/24),  BBC (5/21) 
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As studies explore dangers of broad-spectrum antibiotics, new approach is tested
Gastrointestinal samples.
(Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Most antibiotics kill beneficial bacteria along with harmful pathogens, and a mouse study found that broad-spectrum treatments significantly changed gut microbiomes, thinned the colon mucosa and reduced immune cell counts. A second study showed that mice treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics had fewer Ly6Chi monocytes in their bone marrow, blood and brains, and they did not perform well on memory tests. Meanwhile, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is testing a drug that targets only staphylococcus. The microbiomes of mice treated with the experimental agent were more stable and rebounded more rapidly than the microbiomes of mice treated with standard antibiotics.
Ars Technica (5/23),  National Public Radio (5/23) 
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Nanotech eyedrops reverse cataracts in animals
Eyedrops containing nanoscale lutein reversed cataracts in rats, and researchers say the compound could eventually be used to treat or prevent cataracts in people and in animals. Daily treatment with the drops for seven days reduced the size of cataracts in the rats' eyes. Louisiana State University professor Cristina Sabliov worked with assistant professor Carlos Astete and researchers in Romania to develop the nanoparticle eye drops.
The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.) (5/22) 
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Genome sequencing uncovers mutation in certain knockout mice
C57Bl/6 knockout mice have a mutation that disrupts Dock2 gene function, and studies using that mouse strain should be scrutinized, researchers at Ragon Institute reported in Cell Reports. "In light of these findings, published studies involving immune or hematopoietic phenotypes in which these C57BL/6 mice have been used as controls, as experimental animals, or for backcrossing will need to be reinterpreted," the researchers wrote. Whole-genome sequencing showed a duplication of the Dock2 gene on chromosome 11, which alters immune function in the mice.
The Scientist online (5/20) 
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Tiny animal-tissue robot could be used for GI procedures
Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have developed a concept for a tiny robot that could be swallowed, unfold in the stomach, perform basic procedures and then melt away. They developed a device primarily using porcine tissue and a tiny magnet that allows external manipulation using a magnetic field. The system, which will be tested in animals and then potentially humans, could facilitate drug delivery, removal of foreign bodies and other procedures. (5/24) 
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Other News
Animal Health
Mammals might play role in avian influenza outbreaks, study suggests
National Wildlife Research Center biologist Jeff Root found that rabbits and skunks can contract and transmit the avian influenza virus to ducks through common feeding and watering sources. The tests were completed in a laboratory, but the results suggest mammals could play a role in influenza among wild birds. Veterinarian Carol Cardona of the University of Minnesota called the research "exciting ... It tells us [a] little bit more about an ecosystem we weren't fully understanding."
The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio) (tiered subscription model)/The Associated Press (5/18) 
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