This week in animal research 09/09/16
Scientists say they have found a new compound that stops malaria in animal studies with a single, low dose.
Tests in mice showed the one-off treatment prevented infection for the full 30 days of the study.
"We identified such compounds with both previously reported and undescribed mechanisms of action, including a series of bicyclic azetidines that inhibit a new antimalarial target, phenylalanyl-tRNA synthetase. The bicylic azetidines display single low-dose cure with activity against all parasite life stages in multiple in vivo efficacy models."
Gene-editing tool, Crispr-Cas9, stunts tumour growth in mice
Dr Weiren Huang and his team from Shenzhen University, in China, used the gene-editing tool Crispr-Cas9 to stunt tumour growth in mice. Mice with the reprogrammed code developed tumours that were much smaller than cancers in mice that did not get this treatment. Whilst experts call the study promising more research is needed to see whether the technique would work in humans.
New opioid pain killer is found effective and non-addictive in monkeys
A new opioid drug referred to as BU08028 alleviated pain in 12 monkeys without showing signs of being addictive, even at high doses. In March, the CDC released guidance, asking doctors to refrain from prescribing opioids due to their highly addictive nature. The opioid epidemic continues kill more than 40 Americans every day therefore this new study could be a step towards an effective, non-addictive, pain-quenching drug. The researchers hope to test BU08028 at treating chronic pain without risks of addiction or overdoses.
Key mechanism behind brain connectivity and memory discovered in mice
Researchers from UCL have successfully reversed memory loss in mice following the discovery that Wnt proteins play a key role in the maintenance of nerve connectivity in the adult brain and could become targets for new treatments that prevent and restore brain function in neurodegenerative diseases. The gene Dkk1 was "switched on" in genetically modified mice, disrupting the action of Wnts. Researchers found that these mice had memory problems. When Dkk1 was "switched off" the mice no longer had memory problems. This research could pave the way for a new drug to treat neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.
Research in mice illustrates that antidepressants might be making bones weaker
Researchers at Columbia University have identified that people with depression taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) have a higher risk of fractures. However, it is not clear whether this was due to the drug or their depression. Mice that were given fluoxetine for 6 weeks, the active ingredient in Prozac, had a decrease in bone mass. Fluoxetine initially causes bones to grow stronger but by six weeks, the higher levels of serotonin prompted by the drug disrupts the ability of the hypothalamus to promote bone growth. This research helps us understand the how prescribed SSRI drugs affect bones.
New asthma medicine relied on primate studies
A new asthma medicine - Benralizumab - an dramatically reduce the regularity of asthma attacks in humans. Two clinical trials suggest that the frequency of attacks can be cut by a third to a half. Prior to human trials, studies in primates showed Benralizumab was found to be effective at reducing the levels of a type of white blood cells which can cause asthma symptoms in humans when they build up in the lungs.