Editorial on animal models in med school training missed the mark | Compound that targets ticks' salivary glands might cut disease risks | Comparison of human, mouse brains reveals important differences
August 28, 2019
FBR Smartbrief
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Editorial on animal models in med school training missed the mark
Editorial on animal models in med school training missed the mark
A recent editorial on the use of animals in emergency physician training "failed to consider complexities of medical education that can involve trade-offs between human health and animal subjects," writes Brown University's chairman of emergency medicine Jeremiah Schuur. FBR board member Carol Scheman writes that simulated models can and should be used in training and research, but there is a profound, important difference between living creatures and simulated models.
The Boston Globe (tiered subscription model) (8/21) 
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Research Breakthroughs
Compound that targets ticks' salivary glands might cut disease risks
Compound that targets ticks' salivary glands might cut disease risks
(Getty Images/Getty Images)
Tick saliva carries the pathogens that cause Lyme disease, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis and other debilitating diseases, and scientists have now developed ion channel blockers that interfere with the balance of sodium, potassium and chloride ions in salivary glands, reducing the risk of pathogen transmission by reducing feeding time. In lab tests, ticks that fed on cow's blood treated with either of two compounds died within 12 hours, and researchers hope to develop a spray or oral medication for people and animals.
Forbes (8/26) 
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Comparison of human, mouse brains reveals important differences
Mouse and human brains have similar cells, but comparing a list of brain parts for each species highlighted some striking differences that could inform future research. The molecular and functional comparison, published in Nature, can help researchers understand how similar potential animal models are to humans, and the findings are open for other researchers to use.
The Seattle Times (tiered subscription model) (8/21),  Scientific American online (8/22) 
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Scientists working with mice narrow down how mutated gene functions in autism
A mutation in the ANK2 gene that suppresses the formation of the giant form of ankyrin B protein caused axons to form branches in mouse brains, impeding their ability to reach targets during brain development. The mice with the mutation, which is linked to autism spectrum disorder, vocalized less than usual when separated from their mothers and groomed themselves more than normal, but had no apparent cognitive or motor impairments, and their brains had an excess of synapses, researchers reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Spectrum News (8/26) 
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Other News
Animal Health
Scientists rush to develop African swine fever vaccine
The only way to contain African swine fever virus is to cull infected herds and quarantine farms, but those measures have largely failed to quell the current outbreak in Asia and Europe. Researchers are working on vaccine candidates made by genetically modifying the virus, but testing may take up to five years, says Pirbright Institute biologist Linda Dixon, and a single vaccine might not prevent all strains of the virus.
The Associated Press (8/21) 
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Northern white rhino eggs harvested in effort to prevent extinction
Northern white rhino eggs harvested in effort to prevent extinction
(Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images)
A team of veterinarians harvested five eggs from each of the planet's last two female northern white rhinoceroses and will artificially inseminate the eggs using northern white rhino sperm, then allow a southern white rhino surrogate to carry the pregnancies. Decades of poaching have pushed the subspecies to the brink of extinction.
The Associated Press (8/23) 
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Foundation awards $100K to Wash. State U. veterinarians for elk study
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded $100,000 to a research team at Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine led by veterinarian Margaret Wild to study elk hoof disease. A dedicated research facility is under construction so that the disease can be studied in a controlled environment.
The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Wash.) (free content) (8/22) 
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Policy News
UK officials pursue ban on animal testing
The UK Labour Party says it will review the Animals Scientific Procedures Act 1986, which includes a plan to fully phase out animal testing. Officials say they also intend to increase transparency of existing animal testing licenses and pursue a ban on the import and export of animals for use in research.
The Daily Mirror (UK) (8/27) 
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Animal Rights Activity
Researcher seeking treatment for blindness receives death threats
Researcher Marco Tamietto received death threats after the Italian Ministry of Health released his and his team's names and university affiliations to an antivivisection group. The ministry approved Tamietto's proposal to seek treatments for brain damage that causes blindness by creating a small lesion in the visual cortex of up to six monkeys and monitoring electrical signals around the lesion to develop visual training and external stimulation methods to restore function. "It's a serious problem in Italy that science and politics have little understanding of each other," said neuroscientist Elena Cattaneo, one of Italy's six lifetime citizen-senators.
Science (tiered subscription model) (8/21) 
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FBR News
FBR resource: Animal Research Perceptions vs. Reality
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.
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Grace Coddington,
creative director at Vogue
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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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