Mainstay model organisms such as fruit flies, mice and roundworms have contributed to countless research breakthroughs, but some experts think science can be advanced even further with the development of novel model organisms. Advances in genomic sequencing and editing are fueling new interest in less traditional creatures such as freshwater flatworms, crustaceans, squid and corals that might be able to shed new light on biology and disease.
Dolly the sheep, the world's first cloned mammal, lived less than seven years, but a paper published in Nature Communications suggests her status as a clone had nothing to do with her short lifespan. Dolly's "sister clones" -- Daisy, Debbie, Denise and Diana -- just marked their ninth birthday and are in good health and within the normal range for blood pressure, metabolism, heart function and a variety of other metrics.
Basic mutations that occur after repeated exposure to human cells can allow simian immunodeficiency viruses to become infectious to human tissue, researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln report in the Journal of Virology. The study, which used mouse models of the human immune system, confirms hypotheses about SIV-HIV links, the authors say, and underscore the importance of zoonotic disease research.
A new hydrogel that activates when it contacts damaged, inflamed tissues and remains dormant when it encounters healthy tissue substantially extended the survival time for a limb transplant in a rat model. The drug, set to be tested in pigs, could spare patients with inflammatory diseases serious side effects and allow more effective, immediate treatment with less frequent dosing.
A new study in mice suggests a vaccine may provide protection from chlamydia, a sexually transmitted bacterial disease that may cause infertility in women. In female mice, the vaccine blocked the bacteria from infecting host cells, reducing vaginal bacterial count by 95% and alleviating fallopian tube pathology by 85%, according to the paper published in Vaccine. Tests on monkeys and guinea pigs are planned, followed by clinical trials in humans.
Building on earlier animal studies, researchers have shown that T cells within the nervous system lymphatics secrete interferon gamma, a molecule that inhibits prefrontal cortex neurons and serves as a normal behavior control mechanism in mice and other model species. The researchers, whose work is reported in Nature, say this information could contribute to a better understanding of human disorders such as dementia, schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorder, which have already been linked to immune system dysfunction.
Research from the University of Notre Dame published in PLOS Biology demonstrates that all brains follow the exponential distance rule, which means that the longer the distance between neuronal connections, the weaker the signal. The team documented adherence to the rule in macaques and mice, shedding light on the shared origins of central nervous systems and possibly explaining certain brain disorders seen in humans, whose longer neuronal connections might contribute to certain pathologies.
Great apes in captivity tend to develop heart disease, but it's not believed to be linked to diet or lifestyle factors like in humans. The Ape Heart Project, a partnership between the UK's Twycross Zoo and the University of Nottingham's School of Veterinary Medicine, is examining the issue and may develop guidelines for care of apes.
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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.