Nobel recipients' breakthroughs were dependent on animal studies | Drug reduces liver triglycerides in monkeys with obesity, T2D | Mouse, human studies link common skin fungus to pancreatic cancer risk
The 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine went to William Kaelin, Jr., Peter Ratcliffe and Gregg Semenza, whose research focused on the cellular mechanisms and physiological changes that enable humans and animals to sense and adapt to changing oxygen availability, work that has contributed to treatments for medical conditions and diseases such as anemia and cancer. The work was dependent on studies in genetically modified mice, and the findings have implications for understanding all animal life.
An experimental compound that activates mitochondria in the liver reduced liver triglycerides in rhesus monkeys, as well as fasting plasma triglycerides and LDL cholesterol in monkeys that had insulin resistance, researchers reported in Science Translational Medicine. Diet and exercise are the preferred treatment for metabolic syndrome, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes, but they are often ineffective, and novel therapies are needed, senior author Gerald Shulman said.
Mice and people with pancreatic cancer had about 3,000 times the number of malassezia fungi in their pancreas as mice and humans without pancreatic cancer, researchers reported in Nature, suggesting that pancreatic cancer might be driven by an overgrowth of the fungus, which is associated with dandruff and skin irritation. The fungus triggers inflammation, and an antifungal drug prevented tumor development in mice.
A virus modified to carry utrophin-producing genes to the muscles of dogs and mice with Duchenne muscular dystrophy prevented muscle deterioration without provoking the immune response that dystrophin therapy causes, researchers reported in Nature. Yuva Gambhir, who has DMD and has worked in senior author Hansell Stedman's lab, says leg tissue in dogs treated with utrophin therapy looked healthy, while those tissue from dogs treated with dystrophin-based gene therapy did not.
Brain waves may be battling each other over what memories should be stored and which should be jettisoned while a rat is sleeping, a study in Cell suggests. Researchers monitoring the sleeping rats' brain waves found that slow oscillations helped boost memory while delta waves had the opposite effect, and the findings could inform development of stroke treatments for humans.
An insulin pill tested in pigs withstands stomach acids but opens when exposed to acids in the small intestine, releasing microneedles that attach to the intestinal wall and dispense insulin into the bloodstream as quickly as a conventional injection, according to a study published in Nature Medicine. The researchers said the technique could also be used to deliver hormones, enzymes, antibodies and RNA-based drugs.
The Vaccination Against Canine Cancer clinical trial is underway at Colorado State University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of California at Davis, where veterinarians will monitor the health of 150 enrolled dogs for five years. A $6.4 million grant from the Open Philanthropy Project is supporting development of the vaccine for multiple types of cancer, and the result could translate to humans, says veterinarian Douglas Thamm, director of clinical research at CSU's Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
The Tasmanian devil's survival is threatened by a contagious facial tumor, and efforts to cure the disease could not only save the species but also improve how human cancers are treated. Cancers that suppress MHC-I protein production -- including devil facial tumors -- evade T cells, and researchers discovered that several classes of drug restore MHC-I molecules on cancer cells' surfaces, conceivably making them vulnerable to immunotherapies.
The University of Minnesota's College of Veterinary Medicine and the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute received a $3 million grant to study how porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus evolves and spreads. The research "will also help us understand the evolution and drivers of genetic diversity in viruses in humans and other animals," said principal investigator Kim VanderWaal.
Animal rights groups mislead the public about animal research, but FBR is fighting back with facts. In this resource, highly respected neuro-oncologist and FBR Board Vice-Chair Dr. Henry S. Friedman refutes myths surrounding animal research with scientific evidence and sets the record straight on the reality and benefits of animal research. Check it out. The brochure is also available in Spanish. Check out Investigación Animal Percepciones vs. Realidad.
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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.