The influenza virus kills up to 650,000 people worldwide each year and sickens many more, and the death toll would be far worse if not for drugs and vaccines developed through research in mice, rats, chickens, dogs and ferrets, writes FBR President Matthew R. Bailey. Ongoing research in rabbits, ferrets and llamas is likely to lead to universal vaccines, and computer models and cell cultures simply cannot yield comparable results, Bailey writes.
The American Journal of Primatology recently published a special issue on marmosets in aging studies with information to guide the development of marmosets as research models. Research in marmosets could lead to a better understanding of bone loss related to estrogen depletion, the use of rapamycin to enhance healthy life spans and the role of metabolism in health and longevity, as well as therapies to counter age-related neurodegeneration and cognitive decline.
Mucus that coats the skin of fish protects them against bacteria, fungi and viruses, and researchers have identified different strains of bacteria in mucus from juvenile fish that inhibit the growth of drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, Candida albicans fungi and a colon cancer cell line. The research, presented at an American Chemical Society conference, could be the basis for novel antimicrobial compounds to treat infections in people and reduce the use of antibiotics in aquaculture.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is providing up to $14.8 million for studies of tardigrades to find methods for protecting cells from damage between the time a stroke, heart attack or traumatic injury occurs and medical treatment begins. Tardigrades can withstand extremely high and low temperatures by entering a state of cryptobiosis, and researchers are testing whether the proteins that allow them to survive extreme conditions could be similarly effective in humans, says study co-leader Pamela Silver.
Researchers believe aging plays a key role in many serious illnesses, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, heart disease and diabetes, and new research suggests drugs that extend the life span of mice could prevent some of those diseases in humans. "Most people don't want to live to 130 and feel like they're 130 but they wouldn't mind living to 90 or 100 and feel like they're 60. And now that can actually be achieved in animals," geriatrician Dr. James Kirkland says.
White matter in the brain, which is crucial for neuronal communication, increases during the teenage years and into early adulthood, but a study in adolescent monkeys found that alcohol consumption slows the rate at which white matter increases by up to half. The study, published in eNeuro, also found that teenage drinking slows growth of the subcortical thalamus, which may result in a predisposition to alcohol use disorder in adulthood.
Veterinarian Julie Medley, the Cambridge, Mass., commissioner of laboratory animals, ensures research animals at area biomedical labs are treated humanely. Dr. Medley, whose sister's life was extended by a cancer drug tested on animals, says she balances the desire to minimize the use of animals in research with the knowledge that animal research is essential to science and medicine.
The brains of 13 dolphins stranded on the East Coast contained beta-amyloid plaques and the neurotoxin beta-methylamino-L-alanine, which is produced by blue-green algae, researchers reported in PLOS One. Other studies have shown an association between dietary exposure to BMAA and neurodegeneration in both monkeys and people, and studying the effects in dolphins might help scientists understand the effects of cyanotoxin exposure on human health.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota's College of Veterinary Medicine are enrolling dogs in a clinical trial of a topical gel for atopic dermatitis. The condition affects quality of life for dogs and their owners, and the gel would likely be a component in a combination of therapies.
Medical students, interns, residents and fellows; doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows in biomedical research; graduate students in public health programs; and graduate students in other health profession programs are eligible to apply for the Lasker Foundation's 2019 Student Essay Contest. Applicants should write an essay of 800 words or less outlining an educational strategy that to increase interest in biomedical sciences among young men and women. Submissions are due by April 11. Learn more.
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Sometimes you think of things to say and you don't say them and you think, "What a good decision!"
Jeffrey Toobin, lawyer, author and political analyst
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.