This week in animal research 12/08/16
Gene responsible for snake's long body may shed new light on spinal cord regeneration
Researchers have discovered that snakes owe their long bodies to a single gene, Oct4, which is 'switched on' for longer than usual during embryonic development. The discovery was made while studying mice that had unusually long or short trunks and understanding its role in keeping the snake's body long may shed new light on spinal cord regeneration.
Three Zika vaccines tested successfully in mice & rhesus monkey
Three different vaccines that protect against Zika have been found effective in rhesus monkey. Human trials will begin later this year to establish that the vaccine is safe and effective in people. One approach used a harmless, inactive Zika virus replica whilst the other two used parts of the virus's genetic code. All three offered complete protection and none were linked to major side-effects.
Donated skin cells from patients with bipolar reduces number of animals used for research
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh are making stem cells from skin cells donated by people with bipolar disorder. The stem cells are developed into brain cells, allowing the team to study how the condition relates to brain tissue. It is hoped that the technique will lead to a better understanding of the disorder and help to develop new treatments. The technique will help reduce and replace the number of animals that are used to study the disease.
One drug that treats three deadly & neglected infections discovered thanks to animal studies
One drug that has the ability to treat three deadly and neglected infections - Chagas disease, leishmaniosis and sleeping sickness - has been identified using animal studies. The new drug has been described as a "new hope" for tackling the parasitic infections which affect millions of people in the poorest parts of the world. Three million compounds were tested and the new drug is now entering safety tests before human trials. Current drugs to treat the infections are expensive and toxic and often need to be given via an intravenous drip, making them impractical in poor regions.
New 3-D imaging system offers non-invasive monitoring of tumour development in zebrafish
Animal testing is an essential step in developing new drugs for diseases. However, the process usually involves invasive procedures with animals that must be euthanized.
Researchers from Imperial College London and University College London (UCL) have now demonstrated a new way to study the progression of disease by adapting an imaging method called optical projection tomography (OPT).
Don't eat dog food; it could reduce your sperm count
Reductions in the quality and quantity of sperm in stud breeding dogs have been measured over the last quarter century and could be down to environmental contaminants in their food.
These same contaminants can be in the human food-chain and having a similar impact, explaining changes in human male fertility.