Like mice, mouse lemurs are tiny and reproduce rapidly, but they have more in common genetically with humans than mice do, and studying the little primates could answer many questions about human genetics, says biochemist Mark Krasnow, who is leading research on the links between mouse lemur genes and their biology, health and behavior. Scientists have sequenced the mouse lemur genome and are developing a single-cell atlas, and some are already studying Alzheimer’s disease in lab-raised mouse lemur colonies.
Neuroscientists at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University are monitoring monkeys while they play brain-controlled video games to determine how people learn. The monkeys have been given the same type of brain-computer interface implanted in clinical trial volunteers, and their goal is to design neurofeedback strategies for stroke survivors, people who have been paralyzed and others who have lost motor function.
An experimental vaccine tested on mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease provoked the development of antibodies that prevented tau tangles in the brain, and the response lasted for months. The findings, published in NPJ Vaccines, “seem to suggest that we can use the body’s own immune system to make antibodies against these tangles,” PhD candidate Nicole Maphis said.
A study published in Cell demonstrates how the activity of certain small RNAs causes a nematode’s learned pathogen avoidance behavior to be passed to future generations as instinct, and another nematode study in the same journal found that small interfering RNAs cause responses to environmental factors to be communicated to the germline and passed on to progeny. The studies support the idea that acquired characteristics can be inherited across generations.
A gene therapy that prevents the expression of a protein that builds up in people with Parkinson’s disease reached the brain in mouse models and significantly reduced the severity of disease, according to a study in Scientific Reports. The research might lead to a treatment not only for Parkinson’s disease but also for other conditions that involve accumulation of the alpha-synuclein protein.
The human brain appears to have developed regions to organize pitch and tone that the monkey brain does not have, allowing humans to process music and speech differently, a study published in Nature Neuroscience found. Researchers adapted an MRI to monitor the brains of six people and five monkeys listening to sounds through headphones, and saw that human brains organized different tones but monkey brains did not.
Altering the balance of gut bacteria in mice with the most common type of breast cancer resulted in inflammation that facilitated the spread of tumor cells into the blood and to the lungs, researchers reported in Cancer Research. Similar experiments with mouse models of triple-negative breast cancer found no significant links between gut dysbiosis and metastasis, but the researchers are hopeful that future studies will determine how microbial communities contribute to development and progression of breast cancer.
A 2-year-old elephant at Chester Zoo recovered from elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus, which nearly all Asian elephants carry and is deadly if it progresses. Veterinarians gave the calf blood plasma transfusions, interferon, and antiviral and immune-boosting medications, and Akbar Dastjerdi, head of the UK’s Animal and Plant Health Agency’s Mammalian Virus Investigation Unit, says the lessons learned in the calf’s recovery move scientists closer to a cure, and a vaccine is in the works.
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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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.