Health officials reveal plan to combat Zika with new funding | Stem-cell heart patches to be tested in porcine models | Genetically modified probiotic lowers hypertension in mouse study
October 5, 2016
FBR Smartbrief
Top Story
Health officials reveal plan to combat Zika with new funding
Health officials reveal plan to combat Zika with new funding.
(Mario Tama/Getty Images)
The $1.1 billion in funding to battle Zika will go toward advancing the development of vaccines, research on the long-term effects of the virus on exposed babies and mosquito-control efforts, federal health officials said. A DNA vaccine against Zika developed by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases is being evaluated in initial human trials now after demonstrating efficacy in non-human primates.
Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model) (10/3),  HealthDay News (10/3) 
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Research Breakthroughs
Stem-cell heart patches to be tested in porcine models
Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Duke University and the University of Alabama are testing various combinations of stem cells that could be placed on the heart to patch injured tissue. The 3D patches will be tested in pigs, whose heart rate is similar to a human's.
Wisconsin Public Radio (9/30) 
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Genetically modified probiotic lowers hypertension in mouse study
Mice given Lactobacillus paracasei genetically modified to deliver a protein to treat high blood pressure had lower blood pressure, reduced thickening of the heart wall and stronger heart contractions than mice that received unmodified L. paracasei or no treatment, researchers reported at the American Heart Association Council on Hypertension meeting. It's part of an emerging line of research exploring ways of harnessing the microbiome to treat disease or otherwise improve health, and more animal studies are on the horizon.
STAT (9/29) 
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Rat studies could deliver new Alzheimer's insights
Rat studies could deliver new Alzheimer's insights.
(Sebastien Bozon/AFP/Getty Images)
A study published in Current Biology showed that rats can recall specific events, which are the types of memories that first begin to vanish as Alzheimer's disease progresses. Most Alzheimer's disease drugs are tested in mice, but the study shows that rats might be preferable models for research, said molecular genetics professor Bruce Lamb, leader of a $25 million effort to develop better animal models of Alzheimer's.
National Public Radio (9/29) 
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3D-printed bone shows promise in animal studies
A 3D-printed material successfully replaced bone in animals and encouraged bone regrowth, according to a study published in Science Translational Medicine. The custom-made ink contains a form of calcium called hydroxyapatite and a biodegradable polymer, used to form a porous, hyperelastic scaffold that can be infiltrated by cells and blood vessels, the researchers said. (10/3) 
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Researchers explore role of microbiome in obesity
Researchers at the University of Toronto have finished the first phase of a study testing whether fecal transplants can reduce obesity as part of an effort to unravel the role of microbiota in obesity. Results of animal studies suggest that intestinal flora affect body fat levels, and fecal transplantation is already being used to treat Clostridium difficile infections.
National Post (Canada) (10/4) 
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Mouse study might guide researchers to ALS treatment
Scientists discovered that turning off production of the macrophage migration inhibitory factor protein in mice with a mutated SOD1 gene accelerated amyotrophic lateral sclerosis onset and shortened life spans. The finding could lead to a new target for ALS treatments, the scientists said.
United Press International (10/4) 
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Other News
Animal Health
Interbreeding poses dilemma for conservationists
Interbreeding poses dilemma for conservationists.
Cuban crocodile. (Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images)
In January, 100 captive-born Cuban crocodiles were released into the wild as part of a 56-year effort to preserve the critically endangered species, but subsequent genetic analyses showed that wild Cuban crocodiles commonly interbreed with American crocodiles. The American crocodile is more tolerant of saltwater, and scientists say interbreeding could help the resultant offspring survive as sea levels rise, prompting questions about whether conservationists should try to maintain the crocodiles' genetic purity.
Nature (free content) (9/28) 
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