This week in animal research 26/08/16
Researchers have used sheep to test the stentrode, a new type of neural recording device
Animals allow us to try new medical devices before they move on to human trials. The stentrode - a new device for recording brain activity without invasive brain surgery - was developed using sheep. The animal was chosen as its blood vessels and brain topology are similar to that of humans.
Research in mice suggests viruses are more dangerous when victims infected in the morning
A team of scientists from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München in Germany has developed a technique (tissue clearing) that can turn an animal's body completely transparent. The technique works successfully on the whole bodies of mice and rats, allowing them to be studied to see how traumatic brain injuries affect the central nervous system.
Research shows rats on THC, the main ingredient in marijuana, choose lazier tasks
THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana, makes lab rats lazy. Researchers at the University of British Colombia trained rats to do either a hard challenge (2 sugar pellet reward) and an easy challenge (1 sugar pellet reward). The rats tended towards the harder task, however after being dosed with THC the animals instead chose the easier task.
New anti viral drug protects rhesus macaques from Ebola Sudan - could led to new treatment
Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch have developed a new antiviral drug that protects rhesus macaques from Ebola Sudan, four days following exposure to the virus. Although all infected animals showed evidence of serious disease, those receiving the treatment survived and recovered. There are currently no proven treatments against Ebola Sudan and little is known about the window of opportunity for treating the infection
New stem cell technique successfully treats stroke in mice
Scientists have developed a technique that dramatically increases the production of nerve cells in mice with stroke-induced brain damage. The technique is a combination of 2 methods. Human stem cells are introduced into the damaged area, where they mature into neurons and other brain cells and the compound 3K3A-APC is used to aid this process. A month after their strokes, mice that had received both treatments performed significantly better on tests of motor and sensory functions compared to mice that received neither or only one of the treatments. 3K3A-APC is currently being studied in clinical trials and if found successful it could pave the way for a new treatment for stroke patients.
Research in mice illustrates that increased serotonin activity can promote anxiety
The discovery of the neurotransmitter serotonin aka 'the happy hormone' ultimately lead to the development of anti-depression drugs such as Prozac. However, a common side effect of these SSRIs is anxiety and even suicidal tendencies in the early stages of treatment. Research in mice illustrates that neurons responsible for producing serotonin are found in an area of the brain involved in mood and depression and that increasing these neurons’ activity makes mice more anxious. Scientists believe that if a drug can be developed to eliminate this circuit during the first few weeks of SSRI treatment it could help reduce anxiety and suicidal tendencies in patients.