Small, social and adaptable, the humble rodent has been critical to biomedical science, advancing understanding of neurology, psychology, disease, drugs and even space travel. Researchers have been working with mice and rats for well over 100 years, but they continue to optimize housing and handling to promote welfare, relying on the three R’s principle, which calls for reducing the number of animals used in research, replacing animals with other models when possible, and refining research to improve animal welfare.
Researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine will test whether infusing millions of copies of the APOE2 gene, which is associated with a low risk for Alzheimer’s disease, can slow neurodegeneration in people with two copies of the high-risk APOE4 gene and cognitive decline or an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis. In previous tests, the virus-borne genes spread quickly through non-human primates’ brains, and mice treated with the therapy had a lighter buildup of amyloid protein in their brains.
Researchers collected and analyzed 165,000 cells from the retinas of macaques to develop the first cellular atlas of the primate retina, and they have characterized a key difference between primate eyes and the eyes of other mammals. The work will serve as the basis for more research on how primate vision works, as well as studies of the underpinnings of vision disorders such as glaucoma and macular degeneration.
A drug that treats HIV by turning off a gene may also be useful in the treatment of stroke and traumatic brain injury, according to findings published in Cell. The drug, maraviroc, which blocks the activity of the CCR5 gene, was given to mice right after they had experienced strokes, and researchers found their recovery improved.
The beating of the heart can be converted into energy through piezoelectric layers attached to a flexible frame, and this energy can be harnessed to power a pacemaker, researchers report in ACS Nano. Energy harvesters implanted into pigs captured enough power to run a pacemaker, and as progress continues, the work could one day enable patients to avoid repeat procedures for pacemaker replacements.
A proof-of-concept study in rats demonstrated that nanoparticles filled with an anesthetic can be injected into the bloodstream, cross the blood-brain barrier and release their contents in targeted brain locations using focused ultrasound. The procedure could be used in neurosurgery or to deliver psychiatric drugs to the brain, limiting negative side effects.
When people get their pacemakers replaced at Navicent Health, they have the option to donate their old but still operational pacemaker to the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine to be implanted into dogs with irregular heartbeats. Veterinary cardiologist Gregg Rapoport says pacemakers are cost-prohibitive for most dog owners, and the donations help keep the procedure affordable.
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations awarded up to $31 million to scientists at Tokyo University to develop a Nipah virus vaccine based on a genetically modified version of a measles vaccine. The bat-borne disease affects pigs as well as humans who come in contact with infected bats, pigs or people, and it has a high mortality rate.
For 35 years, FBR has advanced biomedical research for the sake of both human and animal health. We can’t do our job without your support. Please give what you can. Together we will continue to make a difference.
Greatness occurs when your children love you, when your critics respect you and when you have peace of mind.
musician, record producer and composerFebruary is Black History Month
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.