This week in animal research 02/09/16
More than two billion people could be at risk from Zika virus outbreaks in parts of Africa and Asia, according to scientists writing in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
The infection, spread by mosquito bites, reached Africa recently.
Dr Oliver Brady, co-study author and research fellow in mathematical modelling at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: "Countries such as India, Indonesia and Nigeria are predicted to be at highest risk of Zika introduction with up to 5,000 passengers a month arriving from Zika endemic areas.
"Should Zika be imported into these areas the impact on their health systems could be very severe."
Read more background on Zika here: http://www.animalresearch.info/…/me…/diseases-research/zika/
Snakes kill tens of thousands of people each year. But experts can't agree on how best to overcome a desperate shortage of anti-venom.
The scientific research into snake venoms with the aim of creating all-purpose snakebite treatments is fascinating, but unlikely to deliver treatments at poor-world prices for decades.
The method used to make anti-venom has changed little since French physician Albert Calmette developed it in the 1890s. Researchers inject minuscule amounts of venom, milked from snakes, into animals such as horses or sheep to stimulate the production of antibodies that bind to the toxins and neutralize them. They gradually increase doses of venom until the animal is pumping out huge amounts of neutralizing antibodies, which are purified from the blood and administered to snakebite victims.
There is no scientific reason why traditionally made anti-snake venom is not more widely available, with folk in Africa being treated as readily as snake-bite victims in South America, it is in the arena of politics and economics that solutions must be found.
Tasmanian devils are dying out as a result of an infectious cancer which is sweeping the island of Tasmania, Australia. In two decades their numbers have fallen by 85%. Studies into the causes found that seven genes play an important part in their vulnerability - five of which are linked to cancer or immune functions in other mammals. It is hoped that such studies might open up a better understanding of human cancer.
"We are also interested in the implications in wildlife diseases in general and in human cancer.This disease moves from host to host, it is like a very long lived human tumour. It may give us insights into cancer remission and recurrence," Dr Dofter said.
The HPV vaccine has halved worldwide cervical cancer rates.
In Australia, the first country to roll out the vaccine, has seen rates of HPV drop by 90% - this is important given that a number of cancers (including cervical) are believed to be caused by HPV. The vaccine was made possible after years of research which included work on rabbits, dogs, mice and cows.
"As with most medical discoveries, animal research played a vital role in the development of the HPV vaccine[ ...] From rabbits, to mice, to non-human primates, many species were involved in uncovering the link from HPV-cervical cancer and in developing the first effective vaccine."
Read more about the animal research behind HPV: https://speakingofresearch.com/…/hpv-vaccine-a-success-in-…/
Jelly organs, touring laboratories and interactive 'in vitro' science days are just some of the public engagement projects awarded funding by the NC3Rs in 2016. These awards - up to £1,000 - aim to improve public understanding of the 3Rs. In one example, school kids could see how organ-on-a-chip technologies work by pouring lemon juice into a a 'chip' made of jelly organs.
Dr Vicky Robinson, Chief Executive of the NC3Rs, said:
“In our experience many people want to know more about the work we are doing to apply the 3Rs - these awards highlight the depth of research that the NC3Rs funds and the wide breadth of science that the 3Rs can affect.”
Like humans, dogs use the right hemisphere of their brain to process intonation, and the left hemisphere to process words. The study - which involved 13 dogs being trained to lie in fMRI scanners - found that the dogs required both the right intonation and words to activate the dogs' brain's reward centre.
Attila Andics of the University in Budapest, said:
"The human brain not only separately analyzes what we say and how we say it, but also integrates the two types of information, to arrive at a unified meaning. Our findings suggest that dogs can also do all that, and they use very similar brain mechanisms"