A brain implant that wirelessly stimulates electrodes in the legs of paralyzed monkeys has allowed them to walk again, according to findings published in Nature. The implant sends a signal to an area of the spinal cord that triggers movement in leg muscles, bypassing the injured portion of the spinal cord.
Two compounds can convert scar tissue in mouse hearts into healthy heart muscle, and the findings might lead to a treatment for heart failure in people, researchers report in Circulation. "With our enhanced method of direct cardiac reprogramming, we hope to combine gene therapy with drugs to create better treatments for patients suffering from this devastating disease," primary author Tamer Mohamed said.
Macrophages can break through solid tumors to create new routes for moving oxygen and other compounds, according to a study in mice published in Scientific Reports. The finding might explain why some cancer drugs do not work as expected, and the researchers suggest that future studies examine macrophages' effects on age-related diseases.
A small number of DNA base pair changes acquired over evolutionary history allow a gene usually expressed in the muscle and bone of mice to be activated in primate brains in response to brain activity, and the process might have something to do with how human brains develop during childhood, according to a study published in Nature. The insight "gets at this underlying question of how did we as a species, and primates more generally, evolve our cognitive abilities," said Columbia University's Justine Kupferman, who co-authored a commentary on the work.
A topical gel containing heat shock protein 60 significantly improved diabetic wound healing in mice, according to a study published in npj Regenerative Medicine. Studies in zebrafish showed the protein is generated at injury sites and plays a role in the regeneration and healing of tissue.
The bacteria that caused leprosy in humans in medieval England has been found in red squirrels in the UK, according to a study published in Science. Researchers said the study suggests nonhuman leprosy reservoirs could be more abundant than previously thought and might help explain disease patterns in areas where leprosy is still endemic.
Concerns about animal welfare are legitimate, but medical progress is of paramount importance, according to this editorial. Because of tight restrictions in the US and Switzerland, neuroscientist Gregoire Courtine commuted to a research lab in Beijing to perform groundbreaking research that could eventually allow people with spinal cord damage to walk again. "These are not ideal conditions for conducting life-altering scientific research, nor is it the best use of the time, talent and education of dedicated scientists," the editorial board members write.
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