This week in animal research 03/03/17
Scientists map how the brain fights viruses
A new study in mice has discovered that one particular type of cell, called microglia, acts as “first responders to the scene” when the brain needs to defend itself.
It does so by coordinating the immune system's defence against the virus trying to infect the brain.
When microglia are not functioning optimally, it can lead to inflammation of the brain. And dysfunctional microglia may also be involved in diseases such as multiple sclerosis, depression, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
“There are several indications that errors in microglia signalling pathways can lead to inflammation of the brain. Several findings also indicate that the immune system plays an increasing role in the development of Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders. Our results can be used to study these diseases and learn more about them,” says co-author Line Reinert
Artificial 'embryos' created in the lab
Scientists have created "artificial embryos" using stem cells from mice, in what they believe is a world first.
The University of Cambridge team used two types of stem cells and a 3D scaffold to create a structure closely resembling a natural mouse embryo.
DNA clues to why woolly mammoth died out
The last woolly mammoths to walk the Earth were so wracked with genetic disease that they lost their sense of smell, shunned company, and had a strange shiny coat.
Treatment of Pain Gets the Green Light
A study by UA researchers revealed that rats with neuropathic pain that were bathed in green LED showed more tolerance for thermal and tactile stimulus. A clinical trial involving people suffering from fibromyalgia is underway.
Freezing organs is easy, re-warming them is not.
Transplant tissue and organs often suffer major damage when thawed out. In this new study, the researchers addressed this rewarming problem by developing a new method using silica-coated iron oxide nanoparticles dispersed throughout a solution that included the tissue.
After rewarming and testing for viability, the results showed that none of the tissues displayed signs of harm, unlike control samples rewarmed slowly over ice or those using convection heating.
The researchers were also able to successfully wash away the iron oxide nanoparticles from the sample following the warming.
In the new study, which published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, they warmed 50 milliliters of animal heart valves and blood vessels, indicating that the technique could be scaled up to full human organs.
Mapping the brain
Researchers at the Allen Institute for Brain Science used genetically modified mice to map certain neurons in the brain. Using the green fluorescent protein, they were able to build a 3D image of the branches of the neuron. One neurons wrapped itself entirely around the brain like a 'crown of thorns'.
New research suggests that myxoma virus, which is only found in rabbits could be used as a treatment for fatal blood cancer. A study in mice found that the virus was able to eradicate an aggressive form of bone cancer by strengthening and immune system. If the approach works in humans, it could lead to new treatments for blood cancers like multiple myeloma which normally reply on stem cell transplants.