Scientists are developing and testing innovative treatments for cancers, heart defects, blindness, infectious peritonitis and many other diseases that affect dogs and cats as well as humans, yet about half of Americans say they are against research involving animals, writes Matthew R. Bailey, president of the Foundation for Biomedical Research. "Such innovative research saves and improves animals' lives -- and can lead to treatments for humans down the road," he writes.
An experimental HIV vaccine that triggered antibody production in mice, guinea pigs and rhesus macaques is being optimized for humans, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases intends to test the vaccine in people next year. Researchers reported in Nature Medicine that the vaccine stimulated animals' immune systems to produce antibodies that could neutralize up to 31% of 208 HIV-1 strains.
American and Irish investigators have developed Therepi, a refillable polymer patch with a semi-permeable membrane that can deliver a stem cell therapy directly to damaged heart tissue, according to a study in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering. In tests of rats, multiple doses over four weeks were associated with improved heart function compared with no treatment or single doses.
Researchers including MIT neuroscience professor Guoping Feng have been traveling to China to study non-human primate models of autism. Scientists use CRISPR gene editing technology to create Shank3 knockout macaques, and Feng has talked with scientists at the Oregon National Primate Research Center about performing similar research in the US.
Three universities are recruiting a combined 800 pet dogs for a placebo-controlled clinical trial of a universal cancer vaccine that, if successful, would have broad implications for human as well as canine health. Some experts say it is impossible to prevent an array of cancers, but study leaders say they have developed a promising vaccine cocktail that primes immune cells to recognize and kill cancerous cells.
The variety of eucalyptus leaves preferred by individual koalas depends on those koalas' gut microbiomes, suggesting that changing the composition of gut bacteria through fecal transplantation could allow them to expand their diets and their habitats, researchers reported at the American Society for Microbiology's annual meeting. Another study presented at the meeting found that changing the southern white rhinoceros' gut microbiome could improve fertility.
A cancer treatment developed at the University of Kansas is being tested in pet dogs with naturally occurring cancer. The treatment involves injecting drugs directly into tumors and, if effective, could reduce the need for surgery and chemotherapy, says dermatologist Daniel Aires.
The NIH has allocated $7 million to fund two new genome research centers: one for testing genome editing technologies in pigs and another for testing in non-human primates. Researchers will develop methods and protocols for evaluating safety and effects in target cells and tissues and will share the resulting knowledge, methods and tools with the scientific community.
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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.