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FBR SmartBrief July 3, 2019

Scientists eliminate HIV in mice, raising hopes for a cure | Study in monkeys sheds new light on how brains process images | Cancer treatment technique boosts survival in mice

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July 3, 2019
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Scientists eliminate HIV in mice, raising hopes for a cure

Scientists eliminate HIV in mice, raising hopes for a cure
(Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
Researchers in laboratories at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Temple University have achieved a breakthrough in the search for an HIV cure, eradicating the virus from the genomes of living mice. Pairing a new type of virus-suppressing treatment with CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing allowed the team to eliminate the virus from one-third of treated mice, and the work has given them “a clear path to move ahead to trials in nonhuman primates and possibly clinical trials in human patients within the year,” Temple researcher Kamel Khalili said.

USA Today (7/2),  HealthDay News (7/2),  CNBC (7/3)

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RESEARCH BREAKTHROUGHS

Study in monkeys sheds new light on how brains process images

Study in monkeys sheds new light on how brains process images
(Pixabay)
Vision cells in the brains of macaques respond to both shape and color, a study published in Science suggests, countering previous models of visual processing in the brain. Researchers monitored vision cells in the monkeys’ brains by tweaking genes to make active nerve cells glow, and then they observed the activity while the monkeys looked at various images.

Science News (7/1)

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Cancer treatment technique boosts survival in mice

Researchers discovered they can keep cytokines inside cancer cells by attaching them using proteins that act like Velcro, according to a study in Science Translational Medicine, and the findings substantially improved survival in mice. Cytokines have the potential to destroy cancer if injected into tumors, but they do not differentiate between healthy cells and cancerous ones, posing a hazard if they leak out of tumors into the bloodstream.

New Atlas (6/27)

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Lab unlocks secrets of the mammalian brain by restoring activity after death

Yale University neurobiologist Nenad Sestan’s team has been quietly working for years on efforts to restore activity — but not consciousness — to post-mortem pig brains, work that could create a completely new medium for understanding the brain that might unlock the underpinnings of diseases like schizophrenia and autism. Built on a foundation of decades of animal research, they first worked with slices of brains, and eventually landed on a whole-brain approach that leverages perfusion. Ultimately, they restored full metabolic function to most of the organ, meaning the cells converted oxygen and glucose to metabolites in a process that is essential to life.

The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (7/2)

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Scientists zero in on “hunger neurons” to understand obesity

Manipulating temperature-sensitive “hunger neurons” in the brain could help people feel less hungry and aid in weight loss, Princeton University researchers report in the journal Cell after discovering the phenomenon in mice. The neurons modulate energy expenditure and food intake to regulate energy balance, and the findings could lead to advances in obesity management, researchers said.

Medical Daily (6/28)

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ANIMAL HEALTH

FDA issues update on rising dilated cardiomyopathy toll in pets

The FDA collected 515 reports of dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs and nine in cats between January 2014 and April 2019, and because some reports involved multiple pets in a single home, the agency said the total number of animals affected is probably higher. Although genetic predisposition seems to play a role in some cases of DCM, the FDA has been exploring a possible link with diet.

USA Today (6/28),  HealthDay News (6/27)

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Chlamydia-free koala population offers new hope for Australian icon

Chlamydia-free koala population offers new hope for Australian icon
(Marius Becker/AFP/Getty Images)
Kangaroo Island could be home to Australia’s last chlamydia-free koalas, and the population might offer a lifeline for others that are suffering amid the blindness, infertility and death that can result from the bacterial disease. Researchers who tested 170 koalas from Kangaroo Island and 75 from the South Australia mainland found no sign of disease in the island animals, compared with 47% from the mainland group.

ABC (Australia) (7/2)

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Arms of octopuses act independently from brains

Octopus arms appear to be able to make decisions without any input from the brain, partially because they have around 350 million of the cephalopods’ 500 million neurons, according to findings presented at the 2019 Astrobiology Science Conference. “The octopus’ arms have a neural ring that bypasses the brain, and so the arms can send information to each other without the brain being aware of it,” says researcher Dominic Sivitilli.

ScienceAlert (Australia) (6/26)

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FBR NEWS

New 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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