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
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.”
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.
New 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.
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.”
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.”
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
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.
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.
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.