This week in animal research 16/12/2016
Research in mice highlights gene network associated with epilepsy that triggers seizures thanks to malfunctions
A team of scientists from Imperial College London have discovered a gene network in the brain associated with epilepsy. Research in mice was used to confirm that malfunctions in this ‘epileptic network’ of 320 genes triggered seizures. The team hope that finding compounds that restore the activity of this epileptic network could lead to potential new treatments for epilepsy.
Research using mice identifies that a deficiency in enzyme prohormone covertase is linked to Prader-Willi syndrome
Using transgenic mice, researchers have discovered that a deficiency of the enzyme prohormone covertase in the brain is linked to most of the neuro-hormonal abnormalities in Prader-Willi syndrome, a genetic condition that causes extreme hunger and severe obesity beginning in childhood.
Patterns in the resting mouse brain
Using a recently developed imaging technique in mice, the Columbia team revealed synchronised, network-like neural activity coursing around the brain, even when the mouse was ‘at rest.’ The researchers further demonstrated that this neural activity could predict slowly changing patterns of blood flow in the brain, connecting their findings to the enigmatic signals detected in ‘resting-state’ fMRI.
Can Singing Mice Reveal the Roots of Human Speech?
Mouse songs are used by researchers to explore the basics of vocal communication. When humans speak, their vocal cords vibrate at different frequencies like the strings on a guitar. People shape those sounds with the lips and tongue to form phonemes—the distinct units of speech—which come together to make syllables, words, and phrases. Mice lack vibrating vocal cords and an articulatory apparatus, but they can still volitionally utter streams of distinct syllables. So they are seen to be useful for exploring the rudimentary aspects of speech production that mice and men share.
Lifespan of mice successfully increased thanks to a technique that re-programmes cells to reverse the ageing process
The lifespan of mice has been successfully increased thanks to a technique that re-programmes cells thus reversing the ageing process. The mice lived about 30% longer than untreated animals, with the technique also working on human cells in the lab. The technique involves turning cells back into stem cells, which can develop into any kind of specialist cell.
One third of autism cases may be caused by low levels of protein nSR100 in the brain
A study in mice reveals that a third of autism cases may be caused by low levels of protein nSR100 in the brain. Mice genetically engineered to have just half the normal amount of nSR100 displayed signs of autism, such as avoiding social interaction and being more sensitive to noise. The results from this study could lead to new treatments.