Proactive research is the best defense against emerging diseases | Mousetronauts serve as model for muscle-wasting diseases | Bioengineered mouse skin functions, grows
April 6, 2016
FBR Smartbrief

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Proactive research is the best defense against emerging diseases
Infant with microcephaly.
(Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Instead of scrambling to meet the needs of people actively infected with emerging diseases such as the Zika virus, FBR board Chairman Dr. Claire Pomeroy advocates for aggressive proactive measures including funding research in vaccine research, virology, immunology and epidemiology. "Formulating solutions in the heat of a health crisis is dangerously inadequate; reacting to each outbreak instead of consistently funding research means that we will always be behind, never ahead of the crisis," writes Pomeroy, president of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation. CNBC (4/4)
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Research Breakthroughs
Mousetronauts serve as model for muscle-wasting diseases
A new crew of 20 female mice is about to be en route to the International Space Station, where the rodents will be studied to learn more about the effects of life in space on muscle and bone. More than two dozen space flights have carried rodents into space for various research purposes, but the animals have never stayed in orbit as long as they will on the current mission. The findings may help people who suffer with muscular dystrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Motherboard (4/4)
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Bioengineered mouse skin functions, grows
Scientists in Japan announced that they have successfully bioengineered functioning skin that formed connections to the surrounding muscle, fat and nerve tissue when transplanted in a mouse study. The engineers used stem cells to create skin cells in the lab, which they transplanted onto the mice in small pieces, where it grew hair and survived for at least 70 days, the researchers reported in the journal Science Advances. HealthDay News (4/1), The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (4/4)
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Study finds link between excessive synaptic pruning, Alzheimer's disease
Mouse models of Alzheimer's disease had elevated levels of the C1q protein, which triggers microglia to prune healthy synapses in brain tissue, and blocking the protein stopped the process, according to a study in Science. Researchers also found that synaptic pruning preceded the formation of beta amyloid plaques, and they believe an interaction between C1q and the protein that forms plaques is involved with the synaptic damage. (3/31)
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Studying salamanders to find treatments for people
Researchers in Australia are mimicking the salamander's ability to regenerate limbs, creating induced multipotent stem cells from bone and fat cells and testing whether these cells repair tissue damage in mouse models. Human trials are planned for next year and will expand on the current findings, which were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The Independent (London) (tiered subscription model) (4/4)
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Scientists study genetics of bat wing development to help humans with limb abnormalities
(Ian Waldie/Getty Images)
Researchers have traced the genetic roots of bat wings and published their findings in Nature and PLOS Genetics, noting the formation of the forelimb wings involves a complex set of genes and triggers to activate them. The process of embryonic wing development isn't completely clear and more work is needed, including simulating the wing-related genetic changes in laboratory mice, but eventually, the researchers hope the findings could help humans with developmental limb deformations. The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (3/28)
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Scientists upgrade understanding of gorilla genome with new study
The genetic map of the gorilla has been updated, with researchers finding that gorillas are a bit more closely related to humans than previously thought, according to findings published in Science. The new research found differences between humans and gorillas in immune and reproductive systems; sensory perception; keratin production; and insulin regulation. "The differences between species may aid researchers in identifying regions of the human genome that are associated with higher cognition, complex language, behavior and neurological diseases," said Christopher Hill, a study author. Reuters (3/31)
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Animal Health
Comparative oncology advances treatments for canine, feline, human patients
The National Cancer Institute's Center for Cancer Research created the Comparative Oncology Program to run clinical trials of cancer drugs in dogs and cats and then use that information to develop new treatments for people and their pets. Comparative oncology provides a bridge between laboratory and human trials, fueling development of drugs that might otherwise never advance beyond the lab. The Scientist online (4/1)
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