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FBR SmartBrief – May 29, 2019

Activists could quash a universal flu vaccine | Commentary: Animal studies are one step on the path to clinical use | Pig’s heart provides plenty of power for battery-free pacemaker

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May 29, 2019
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Activists could quash a universal flu vaccine

Influenza kills up to 650,000 people and hospitalizes many more each year, yet activists are trying to put an end to promising research on a universal flu vaccine. Research in mice, dogs, rats and chickens has led to influenza treatments and vaccines, but those vaccines don’t always match the circulating strain, and research on rabbits, ferrets and llamas, among other animals, could yield a universal vaccine unless misguided activists succeed.
Town Line (South China, Maine) (5/22)
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Commentary: Animal studies are one step on the path to clinical use

Commentary: Animal studies are one step on the path to clinical use
(Pixabay)
Animal studies are clinically relevant to human health, but reporters as well as researchers often exaggerate study findings, contributing to skepticism, writes biochemist and former research scientist Yella Hewings-Martin. Neurobehaviorist Vootele Voikar says scientists should take species-specific differences into account as much as possible and present their findings without hype, and news outlets should also avoid hype and ask and present different views to promote objective discussion.

Medical News Today (5/24)

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RESEARCH BREAKTHROUGHS

Pig’s heart provides plenty of power for battery-free pacemaker

A battery-free pacemaker received plenty of power to function correctly from the heartbeat of a pig into which it was implanted, and it corrected arrhythmia when implanted in another pig. The device is also being tested in dogs and must be optimized before it can be used in people, but the study results suggest the concept could help reduce the need for repeated surgeries to replace pacemaker batteries.

Scientific American online (5/28)

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NIH issues $9M for nonhuman primate study of gene-editing safety

NIH issues $9M for nonhuman primate study of gene-editing safety
(Pixabay)
Researchers at the University of California, Davis, received a $9 million grant from the NIH to study the safety of CRISPR gene editing and ensure that only targeted, disease-specific genes are altered with no unintended effects. UC Davis was chosen based on faculty expertise in nonhuman primate research, and a new research center, called the Nonhuman Primate Testing Center for Evaluation of Somatic Cell Genome Editing Tools, will be established.

The Sacramento Bee (Calif.) (tiered subscription model) (5/21)

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Fruit flies used to screen cancer drugs for humans

Genetically engineered fruit flies were used to screen a customized combination of cancer drugs before it was given to a terminally ill patient with colon cancer, according to a study published in Science Advances. The screened drugs helped shrink the patient’s tumors significantly, and researchers say the method may lead to more effective treatments.

The Scientist online (5/22)

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Stroke therapy studied in animals advances to human testing

Stroke therapy studied in animals advances to human testing
(Pixabay)
Electrical stimulation of an area at the back of the nose might help improve blood flow and improve neurologic outcomes in patients with acute ischemic stroke, according to a study published in The Lancet. Data showed the therapy, which was tested in animals before being tried in people, works up to 24 hours after a stroke begins, which could help patients who miss the treatment window for thrombolysis, researcher Dr. Jeffrey Saver says.

Medscape (free registration) (5/27)

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Other News

ANIMAL HEALTH

Veterinarian uses cod fish skin to heal badly burned dog

Veterinarian Brea Sandness and her team at Michigan State University Veterinary Medical Center used grafts made of descaled cod fish skin to heal second- and third-degree burn wounds on a dog that survived a house fire. Minimal sedation was needed to place the skins, which were absorbed by the dog’s body, and the technique could become “a highly effective treatment tool,” Dr. Sandness says.

WLNS-TV (Lansing, Mich.) (5/23)

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Ferret numbers drop after plague kills prairie dogs at Mont. refuge

Sylvatic plague killed 70% of the black-tailed prairie dogs in the winter of 2017-18 at Montana’s UL Bend National Wildlife Refuge, leading to decimation of the refuge’s endangered black-footed ferret population, which depends on prairie dogs for food. An oral vaccine distributed in the refuge failed to prevent the die-off, but efficacy has not been ruled out at some other prairie dog colonies.

Great Falls Tribune (Mont.) (5/23)

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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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Ruth Handler,
businesswoman and inventor of the Barbie doll
May is National Inventors Month
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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.
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