Animal Research

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Luminous heart cells: Jellyfish proteins assist in heart rhythm disorder research

A molecular sensor makes the electrical activity of heart cells visible. Credit: Alessandra Moretti / TUM

A molecular sensor makes the electrical activity of heart cells visible.
Credit: Alessandra Moretti / TUM

Story by Technical University of Munich (TUM)

Cell models from stem cells serve an ever-increasing role in research of cardiac dysfunction. Researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have succeeded in producing cells which offer new insights into properties of the heart. They installed a molecular sensor into the cells which emits light, and not only makes the cells’ electrical activity visible, but also makes it possible for the first time to quickly identify cell types.

It has been possible to produce so-called induced pluripotent stem cells in the laboratory for the past ten years. These stem cells are derived from white blood cells, for example, and can be infinitely reproduced in the laboratory, and be turned into all possible types of cells. This has enabled the use of heart cells produced in this way in order to investigate cardiac rhythm dysfunctions, for example. Animal experiments are only of limited use for this application, and tissue samples cannot be easily taken from patients’ hearts. Cultivated heart cells, however, provide the opportunity to research such diseases in a ‘miniature’ format. Read More

Published by Science Daily September 2, 2016

UCI study could eventually help people with sleep disorders, researchers say

UC Irvine pharmacology Professor Qun-Yong Zhou shows mice in their sleeping quarters as part of a study Zhou is leading on why some animals sleep at night and others sleep during the day. (Kevin Chang | Daily Pilot)

UC Irvine pharmacology Professor Qun-Yong Zhou shows mice in their sleeping quarters as part of a study Zhou is leading on why some animals sleep at night and others sleep during the day.
(Kevin Chang | Daily Pilot)

A study led by UC Irvine scientists involving animals may someday lead to treatments for people with insomnia and other sleep disorders, the researchers say.

As the team — led by Qun-Yong Zhou, a UCI professor of pharmacology — studied the sleeping and waking patterns of mice and monkeys, the group determined that the patterns were not governed by a specific portion of the brain commonly thought to be the body’s “master clock.”

Published by Los Angeles Times August 31, 2016

Important advance made with new approach to ‘control’ cancer, not eliminate it

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A new approach to cancer therapy works to control it, not completely eliminate it. Photo Credit: Graphic courtesy of Oregon State University.

Researchers have created a new drug delivery system that could improve the effectiveness of an emerging concept in cancer treatment — to dramatically slow and control tumors on a long-term, sustained basis, not necessarily aiming for their complete elimination.

The approach, called a “metronomic dosage regimen,” uses significantly lower doses of chemotherapeutic drugs but at more frequent time intervals. This would have multiple goals of killing cancer cells, creating a hostile biological environment for their growth, reducing toxicity from the drug regimen and avoiding the development of resistance to the cancer drugs being used.

Published by Science Daily August 26, 2016

Animal Research Yields Clues to Sexual Spread of Zika

57bfd0cf47947.imageNew research in mice may offer insight into how the Zika virus is transmitted sexually and affects a fetus. People typically get the virus through the bite of an infected mosquito, although Zika can also be spread through sex.

Since the Zika outbreak began last year in Brazil, thousands of babies whose mothers were infected with Zika early in pregnancy have been born with a devastating birth defect known as microcephaly, in which the head and brain are abnormally small.

Published by tuscon.com August 25, 2016

Biomedical research sheds light on the mysteries of vision

Rod (green) and cone (red) photoreceptors in a human retina. Credit: Dr. Robert Fariss, National Eye Institute, NIH

Rod (green) and cone (red) photoreceptors in a human retina. Credit: Dr. Robert Fariss, National Eye Institute, NIH

One of the more studied parts of the human anatomy, the retina—the neural layer at the back of the eye that senses light—still has secrets to reveal.

“Researchers have known for decades that increased levels of light increase visual acuity,” said Erika Eggers, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, physiology and neuroscience and member of the BIO5 Institute at the University of Arizona. “But we still don’t understand the mechanisms behind this process. It seems like it should be relatively simple, but it’s really very complicated.”

Published by medicalpress.com August 23,2016

Seeing Through to a Mouse’s Nervous System

A mouse tagged with fluorescent protein that has undergone treatment with uDisco to become transparent. Credit Ali Ertur NY Times

A mouse tagged with fluorescent protein that has undergone treatment with uDisco to become transparent. Credit Ali Ertur NY Times

Neuroscientists have developed a way to turn an entire mouse, including its muscles and internal organs, transparent while illuminating the nerve paths that run throughout its body.

The process, called uDisco, provides an alternate way for researchers to study an organism’s nervous system without having to slice into sections of its organs or tissues. It allows researchers to use a microscope to trace neurons from the rodent’s brain and spinal cord all the way to its fingers and toes.

“When I saw images on the microscope that my students were obtaining, I was like ‘Wow, this is mind blowing,’” said Ali Ertürk, a neuroscientist from the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich in Germany and an author of the paper. “We can map the neural connectivity in the whole mouse in 3D.”

Published by New York Times Aug 22, 2016

Animal testing: Could it ever be banned completely?

 Animals will continue to be used for testing medical products until there is a viable replacement. (Getty Images: Rklfoto)

Animals will continue to be used for testing medical products until there is a viable replacement.
Photo Credit (Getty Images: Rklfoto)

By Bianca Nogrady

There’s an uncomfortable truth to modern medicine.That drug you take for your high blood pressure, the vaccine to prevent infectious disease,

the pill to avoid pregnancy, the medical ointment for your skin condition, or even the pacemaker keeping your arrhythmia in check — all of those and more have, at one time, been tested on a live animal.

Between the testing of a new chemical compound on cell cultures in a laboratory and the first time that compound is given to a live human, it will almost certainly be administered to mice, rats, rabbits and perhaps even a non-human primate. Read More

Published by abc.net August 19, 2016

A New Culture of Openness in Animal Research

Photo credit Speaking of Research

By Sarah Elkin

Animal research has been credited with improving human health and leading to many medical breakthroughs. However, animal research still remains a controversial topic, with many animal rights groups believing that animal research is wasteful and pointless. One way to improve the public opinion of animal research is through education and openness. Openness can be achieved by showing the public what an animal research facility looks like and what research takes place there, in addition to discussing how that research affects human health.

In order to address the goal of transparency and openness in animal research, 72 organizations involved with bioscience in the United Kingdom (UK) launched the Concordat on Openness in Animal Research. Currently, over 100 UK organizations have signed the Concordat and pledged to “be clear about when, how and why [they] use animals in research”, “enhance [their] communications with the media and the public about [their] research using animals”, “be proactive in providing opportunities for the public to find out about research using animals”, and “report on progress annually and share [their] experiences”. The Concordat, and the new environment of openness it seeks to encourage, has led many institutions to become more open to the media. Read More.

Published by Speaking of Research August 16, 2016

Similarities Unite Three Distinct Gene Mutations Of Treacher Collins Syndrome

Cell death (labeled in red) within the neural crest cell progenitor population results in a reduced population of neural crest cells (labeled in green) in a polr1d mutant zebrafish embryo. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Trainor Lab.

Cell death (labeled in red) within the neural crest cell progenitor population results in a reduced population of neural crest cells (labeled in green) in a polr1d mutant zebrafish embryo.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Trainor Lab.

Scientists at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research have reported a detailed description of how function-impairing mutations in polr1c and polr1d genes cause Treacher Collins syndrome (TCS), a rare congenital craniofacial development disorder that affects an estimated 1 in 50,000 live births.

Collectively the results of the study, published in the current issue of PLoS Genetics, reveal that a unifying cellular and biochemical mechanism underlies the etiology and pathogenesis of TCS and its possible prevention, irrespective of the causative gene mutation. Read More.

Published by Stowers Institute For Medical Research July 26, 2016

Reopening avenues for attacking ALS

In the murine spleen, lymphoid tissue (purple) is responsible for launching an immune response to blood-born antigens, while red pulp (pink) filters the blood. Mutations in the C9ORF72 gene, the most common mutation found in ALS patients, can inflame lymphoid tissue and contribute to immune system dysfunction. align=

Photo courtesy of Dan Mordes, Eggan lab, Harvard Stem Cell Institute

Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers at Harvard University and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT have found evidence that bone marrow transplantation may one day be beneficial to a subset of patients suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal neurodegenerative disorder more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

In the photo of the murine spleen shown, lymphoid tissue (purple) is responsible for launching an immune response to blood-born antigens, while red pulp (pink) filters the blood. Mutations in the C9ORF72 gene, the most common mutation found in ALS patients, can inflame lymphoid tissue and contribute to immune system dysfunction.

ALS destroys the neurons connecting the brain and spinal cord to muscles throughout the body. As those neurons die, patients progressively lose the ability to move, speak, eat, and breathe. Read More.

Published by EurekAlert! July, 21 2016