Labs prepare for human testing in push for Zika vaccine | Drug may delay or prevent breast cancer | Primate model may offer new insight into Parkinson's
June 22, 2016
FBR Smartbrief
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Labs prepare for human testing in push for Zika vaccine
Labs prepare for human testing in push for Zika vaccine.
(Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Numerous labs are working to develop a vaccine to protect people from infection with the Zika virus, and the first is approved for testing in human trials. GLS-5700 will be tested in 40 people as part of a Phase I trial, while a military research team is preparing to test its vaccine in primate models, followed by humans in the fall, and an NIH team is moving toward testing in humans later this summer with its candidate vaccine. (6/22), (6/21),  Gizmag (6/21) 
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Research Breakthroughs
Drug may delay or prevent breast cancer
A study in the journal Nature Medicine found that the drug denosumab was able to stop certain breast tissue cells from transforming into cancer cells, and treatment was also effective in mouse models. The Australian researchers hope the drug could prevent or delay breast cancer in women with a high risk of the disease.
CNN (6/21) 
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Primate model may offer new insight into Parkinson's
Japanese researchers genetically modified marmosets, inserting mutated forms of the Parkinson's-linked gene SNCA, and they went on to develop signs of Parkinson's much like people do, starting with sleep problems, then brain aggregations known as Lewy bodies and eventually tremors. Researchers hope the new model will improve research into possible treatments for the devastating disease, which is difficult to study in living humans.
New Scientist (6/21) 
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Hippocampus grafts allow regeneration in aged brains
The brain can assimilate grafted neurons and grow new ones in response to the grafted cells, research published in Stem Cells Translational Medicine found. The researchers grafted neural stem cells into the hippocampus of aged animal models and found that the hippocampus of older animals accepted the grafted cells as well as that of younger animals, which may lead to helping treat age-related neurodegenerative diseases in humans.
Science World Report (6/17) 
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Autism-model mice improve with microbial treatment
Lactobacillus reuteri gastrointestinal levels may play a role in autism symptoms, researchers report in Cell. L. reuteri was nine times lower in the gastrointestinal tracts of mice born to mothers fed a high-fat diet, and their offspring had symptoms of autism spectrum disorder that mostly resolved within weeks of being exposed to mice with normal L. reuteri levels.
Tech Times (6/18),  The Scientist online (6/16) 
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Ultrasound breaches blood-brain barrier for cancer treatment
Ultrasound waves successfully opened the blood-brain barrier in glioblastoma patients, according to a study published in Science Translational Medicine, a critical step for cancer treatment. Previous testing in animal models demonstrated that ultrasound can assist brain drug delivery, and the current study showed implants that emit ultrasound waves loosened blood-brain-barrier cell junctions, allowing gadolinium contrast agents entry into the brain. (6/20) 
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Other News
Animal Health
Researcher works to preserve koala genetic diversity
Southeast Queensland, Australia, is the last stronghold for the shrinking northern koala population, and University of Queensland researcher Bridie Schultz is working to preserve genetic diversity among the animals. Schultz harvests semen from injured or deceased male koalas using the same technique labs use to collect semen from mice and rats. She then inseminates captive females -- and has even worked with one wild female -- in order to boost the genetic diversity of the remaining population.
The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) (6/18) 
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Policy News
Researchers push back against planned NIH database cuts
Researchers wrote an open letter to NIH Director Francis Collins and other NIH leaders, raising concerns over plans to reorganize and reduce funding for five NIH-supported model-organism databases that house critical data on budding yeast, flies, mice, roundworms and zebrafish. The resources include key data on biology and genetics as well as analysis tools that have "enabled a bevy of pivotal discoveries that lie at the true heart of the NIH mission," the letter said.
Nature (free content) (6/21) 
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