VA secretary: Canine research program saves veterans' and civilians' lives | 3-drug combo protects NHPs from Lassa virus a week after exposure | Squid ink and ultrasound might replace the painful dental pocket probe
September 13, 2017
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VA secretary: Canine research program saves veterans' and civilians' lives
VA secretary: Canine research program saves veterans' and civilians' lives
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Language in a spending bill passed by the House would stop the Veterans Affairs Department's canine research program, halting progress toward "medical advancements that offer seriously disabled veterans the hope of a better future," writes VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin. Canine research at the VA yielded the implantable cardiac pacemaker and the artificial pancreas, and a current study focuses on preventing potentially deadly pulmonary infections in veterans who have spinal cord injuries, Shulkin writes. Technology to replace animal research cannot be developed in the absence of a thorough understanding of biology and physiology, and canine research is key to doing so, Shulkin writes.
USA Today (9/12) 
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Research Breakthroughs
3-drug combo protects NHPs from Lassa virus a week after exposure
Researchers say a combination of three monoclonal antibodies protected nonhuman primates from Lassa fever when given up to eight days after exposure to the virus, which infects hundreds of thousands of humans each year, killing many of them. "The fact that the treatment was able to rescue 100% of the animals more than a week after infection with Lassa virus suggests that this therapy may benefit patients with Lassa fever in West Africa, who often arrive at the clinic at a late stage of disease," said researcher Robert Garry, whose team at Tulane University worked with researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston on the study.
Homeland Preparedness News (9/8) 
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Squid ink and ultrasound might replace the painful dental pocket probe
Squid ink and ultrasound might replace the painful dental pocket probe
(Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images)
Dentists, dental hygienists and patients dislike the metal pocket-depth probes to detect gum disease so much that early symptoms are easily missed, says dentist Arezou Goshtasbi, but new research reported in the Journal of Dental Research might render the tool obsolete. The researchers tested high-resolution photoacoustic ultrasound and cuttlefish ink on pig jaws, using the technique to create a map of pockets around each tooth in less time than it takes to use a metal probe, study leader Jesse Jokerst says.
PBS (9/10),  Washingtonian online (9/11) 
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Study links gut microbes to MS development
Two studies published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that specific types of gut bacteria transplanted from people with multiple sclerosis into mice affected the animals' immune systems, and one of the studies found gut microbiome differences in people with and without MS. Gut bacteria are not the sole trigger of MS, but certain microbes could affect disease progression in someone genetically predisposed to MS, researcher Egle Cekanaviciute said.
HealthDay News (9/12) 
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Noninvasive pen could improve cancer surgery
A hand-held probe linked to a mass spectrometer analyzes tissue and detects malignant cells using a drop of water to extract biomolecules, a research team reported in Science Translational Medicine. If validated in human studies after showing promise in mice and tumor culture tests, it could make cancer excision surgery more precise.
NBC News (9/7) 
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Animal Health
Malaria cases in Brazil tied to zoonotic transmission
A recent outbreak of malaria in Brazil was found to have been linked to zoonotic transmission from monkeys in Rio de Janeiro state, according to a study in the journal The Lancet Global Health. Plasmodium simium infections were initially attributed to Plasmodium vivax, and 27 out of the 39 malaria cases evaluated were linked to ecotourism. These are the first identified monkey-to-human transmissions for P. simium.
Medscape (free registration) (9/7) 
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Other News
Policy News
FDA seeks input on regulatory reform
The FDA is seeking comments on ways it can reshape current regulations following two executive orders signed by President Donald Trump to reduce the burden of the industry while allowing the agency to continue its public health mission and fulfill statutory obligations. The agency wants public comments on regulations concerning researchers; health care institutions; consumers; patients and caregivers; the regulated industry; public interest organizations; trade associations; academia; and local, state and tribal governments.
Regulatory Focus (9/7) 
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Animal Rights Activity
Activists go after post-doc trying to protect endangered species
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has targeted Christine Lattin, a post-doctoral researcher at Yale University studying stress in birds, with protests, threatening Twitter posts, an email campaign and publication of her home address. The goals of Lattin's research are to learn how birds respond to threats, improve conservation efforts and develop noninvasive research methods, and she fears the campaign targeting her will frighten prospective employers. Speaking of Research has called for Lattin's colleagues in the scientific community to stand up for her with supportive comments and condemnation of PETA's tactics.
Science online (9/8),  Speaking of Research (9/7) 
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FBR News
FBR paper: The Critical Role of Nonhuman Primates in Medical Research
FBR paper: The Critical Role of Nonhuman Primates in Medical Research
FBR's NHP White Paper has now been published with Pathogens and Immunity, making it available on PubMed, PubMed Central, Google Scholar, and the Directory of Open Access Journals.

FBR expresses its deepest gratitude to the American Physiological Society, the American Academy of Neurology, the American Transplant Foundation, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, the Society for Neuroscience, the American Society for Microbiology, the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, the Endocrine Society and the numerous scientific experts who made this paper possible.

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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.
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