This week in animal research 05/02/16
01/02/05: Logging helps black rats invade rainforests
Logging can encourage black rats to invade tropical rainforests by creating habitats they prefer, giving them the chance to displace native mammals.
Logging stresses animals living in tropical rainforests by disrupting and removing some of their habitat, but a new study shows that logging can cause further problems for the forests' inhabitants - by providing the perfect conditions for invasive species.
3/2/16: New Alzheimer’s drug to move from mice to man
A new drug, CPHPC, attacks the serum amyloid P component protein (SAP), which is believed to bind together the plaques found in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients. It is hoped that this drug could offer hope for the 800,000 people in Britain who are affected by the disease.
4/02/16 Destroying worn out cells makes mice live longer
When cells wear out, they don’t always die. Instead, they can start pumping out a brew of compounds that can cause damage to surrounding tissue. The process, called senescence, is thought to protect us against cancer and help wounds heal. But as we get older, senescent cells start to accumulate across the body, and may be partly responsible for the general wear and tear of all our organs as we age. Elevated numbers of these cells have already been linked to heart failure, arthritis, Alzheimer’s – and cancer. Get rid of these cells and a host of benefits ensue, suggest mouse studies by Darren Baker, Jan van Deursen and their colleagues at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
05/02/16 sounds at sea stun sediment cyclers
Some man-made sounds can cause certain species to reduce irrigation and sediment turnover. Such reductions can lead to the formation of compacted sediments that suffer reduced oxygen, potentially becoming anoxic (depleted of dissolved oxygen and a more severe condition of hypoxia), which may have an impact on seabed productivity, sediment biodiversity and also fisheries production.
Anthropogenic sources of underwater sound can modify how sediment-dwelling invertebrates mediate ecosystem properties' by Martin Solan, Chris Hauton, Jasmin Godbold, Christina Wood, Tim Leighton and Paul White, Scientific Reports DOI: 10.1038/srep20540
Flu prevention works on mice
Scientists are confident they have created an effective treatment which works against a range of strains of the virus. Professor Deborah Fuller, of the University of Washington, Seattle, said the results 'show computationally designed proteins have potent anti-viral efficacy in a living organism and suggests promise for development of a new class of HA stem-targeted antivirals for both therapeutic and prophylactic (preventive) protection against seasonal and emerging strains of influenza.' Published in PLOS Pathogens
Tübingen neuroscientists have succeeded in activating dormant memory cells in rats. Using weak electrical impulses targeted at previously inactive cells in the hippocampus, the researchers induced the cells to recognize the exact place where the impulse had been first administered. In rodents as well as humans, the hippocampus is the brain area responsible for memory.
Maria Diamantaki, Markus Frey, Patricia Preston-Ferrer, Andrea Burgalossi: Priming Spatial Activity by Single-Cell Stimulation in the Dentate Gyrus of Freely-Moving Rats. Current Biology (in press). 4 February, 2016.