News Archive

The tip of a single quill on a North American porcupine holds as many as 700 backwards-facing barbs that can lodge into the flesh of any animal that wanders too close. For the first time, scientists have figured out how those barbs work together to make it is so easy for quills to penetrate tissue but so hard to pull them out.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - 14:49

In a government lab where scientists slice open dead animals to study the exotic diseases that killed them, Carol Meteyer peered through a microscope at hundreds of little bats and started to notice something very weird.

The bats had managed to survive the white-nose fungus that had killed millions of other bats hibernating in caves, mostly in the Northeast. But they had succumbed to something else that had left their tiny corpses in tatters, their wings scorched and pocked with holes.

Meteyer finally realized what had happened: In the struggle to fight off the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome, the bats were killed by their own hyperaggressive immune systems.

Monday, December 10, 2012 - 17:21

Yes, maggots are creepy, crawly, and slimy. But that slime is a remarkable healing balm, used by battlefield surgeons for centuries to close wounds. Now, researchers say they've figured out how the fly larvae work their magic: They suppress our immune system.

Friday, December 7, 2012 - 15:23

University of Illinois researchers have developed a model that uses neonatal piglets for studying infant brain development and its effect on learning and memory. To determine if the model is nutrient-sensitive, they have done some research on the effects of iron-deficient diets.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012 - 16:07

The stereotypical picture of a scientist includes a white lab coat and a laboratory full of petri dishes, beakers and test tubes. However, some research questions can only be answered using the complexity of living, breathing multicellular organisms. In these cases, preliminary studies use animal models, and if successful, the final stages of development for a new drug or therapy are conducted using human subjects.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - 15:53

Researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Drug Design have developed a synthetic compound that, in a mouse model, successfully prevents the neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - 13:10

Mice with a condition that serves as a laboratory model for Down syndrome perform better on memory and learning tasks as adults if they were treated before birth with neuroprotective peptides, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - 13:08

Researchers at the University of Iowa have discovered a new cause of hydrocephalus, a devastating neurological disorder that affects between one and three of every 1,000 babies born. Working in mice, the researchers identified a cell signaling defect, which disrupts immature brain cells involved in normal brain development.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 15:28

Scientists have reversed paralysis in dogs after injecting them with cells grown from the lining of their nose.

Monday, November 19, 2012 - 16:37

Intestinal issues are not just for us humans. Whereas the inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) now afflicts some 1.4 million people in the U.S., a similar condition often besets captive monkeys. But these animals are providing new insights about a cure for this condition in both species—and that cure is worms.

Friday, November 16, 2012 - 15:27

Parkinson's disease appears to spread through the brain by means of a simple, yet insidious mechanism, according to research to be published Friday by University of Pennsylvania scientists.

When molecules of a certain protein become corrupted in the brain, they can pass on their distorted shape to healthy proteins through nothing more than physical contact.

Like something out of a bad science-fiction movie, more and more healthy proteins latch onto the ones that have gone bad, adopting their "misfolded" configuration until deadly clumps build up in brain cell after brain cell, the Penn team found in its study of lab mice.

Friday, November 16, 2012 - 14:36

UNC researchers track a gene’s crucial role in orchestrating the placement of neurons in the developing brain. Their findings help unravel some of the mysteries of Joubert syndrome and other neurological disorders.

Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 16:14

Scientists at Indiana University and international collaborators have found a way to link two hormones into a single molecule, producing a more effective therapy with fewer side effects for potential use as treatment for obesity and related medical conditions.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 10:57

Tumor cells circulating in a patient's bloodstream can yield a great deal of information on how a tumor is responding to treatment and what drugs might be more effective against it. But first, these rare cells have to be captured and isolated from the many other cells found in a blood sample.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - 15:00

Many devoted pet owners are happy to spend thousands on operations for their cats and dogs – and these procedures could help teach scientists about human diseases, too.

Monday, November 12, 2012 - 17:25

Researchers use the electric potential of a guinea pig’s inner ear to harvest enough energy to run a tiny sensor.

Monday, November 12, 2012 - 12:29

The brain holds in mind what has just been seen by synchronizing brain waves in a working memory circuit, an animal study supported by the National Institutes of Health suggests. The more in-sync such electrical signals of neurons were in two key hubs of the circuit, the more those cells held the short-term memory of a just-seen object.

Friday, November 9, 2012 - 12:23

Biologists are well-known for using lab rats in experiments, but a few may now have the chance to work with rats in a unique way.

A team of engineers has set up a system that lets lab rats control a human-shaped avatar in a virtual environment, while humans control a rat-size robot inside the rat's cage. The result? A six-foot human and a six-inch rat get to interact with each other remotely, and they get to each get to see either a virtual avatar or a robot that's close to their own size.

Friday, November 2, 2012 - 14:02

For mice, the Goliath of lung cancer has a vanquisher in the form of a tiny David.

In a study published in the November issue of Cancer Research, Yale biology researchers Frank J. Slack and Andrea Kasinski revealed that short strands of microRNA, non-coding RNA inhibiting protein translation, were successful in both preventing and curing lung adenocarcinoma in mice. The research is the first to propose that, in a clinical trial using mice, microRNA can be used as a therapeutic to suppress the activation and expression of oncogenic, or cancer-causing, proteins.

Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 15:52

Among the smaller but still important casualties of Hurricane Sandy were thousands of laboratory rodents, genetically altered for use in the study of heart disease, cancer and mental disorders like autism and schizophrenia, that drowned in basement rooms at a New York University research center in Kips Bay.

Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 15:51