This week in animal research 29/01/16

29 January 2016

Posted by: UAR news team

Category: Research & medical benefits

This week in animal research 29 Jan 2016

25/01: Human ear grown on the back of a rat

Japanese scientists have grown a human ear on the back of a rat in order to help children born with facial abnormalities and adults who have suffered accidents. The ear was grown by turning stem cells into cartilage cells which were placed in inside plastic tubes shaped like a human ear on the rat’s back. The framework dissolved after two month leaving behind a two-inch ear lying flat against the animal’s back. Currently, replacement ears are sculpted from cartilage taken from the patient’s ribs, however this requires multiple operations including the painful removal of the cartilage from the chest which never fully heals. The new technique is one of several being perfected around the world, in the aim of making bespoke replacements for body parts damaged by accidents, ravaged by disease or malformed at birth.


26/01: New treatment effectively halt progress of Diabetes in mice

American researchers have managed to halt Type I Diabetes in mice for six months by using insulin-producing cells. The researchers used human stem cells to create insulin-producing islet cells, to treat the condition. Such a method might be a route to effectively cure Type I diabetes, which affects around 400,00 people in the UK and currently requires them to take daily injections.
According to The Times:
“After implantation in the mice, the cells began to produce insulin in response to blood glucose levels, which remained within a healthy range for the length of the study. The findings are published in the journals Nature Medicine and Nature Biotechnology.”
Also in Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/12120141/Harvard-and-MIT-close-to-cure-for-Type-1-diabetes-which-will-end-daily-injections.html

27/01: Robotic screening tool is a step closer towards animal free toxicity testing

An in vitro robotic screening tool able to screen thousands of chemicals in human cell lines has been developed by researchers at the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. The tool has the ability to test environmental chemicals found in drugs, food and food packaging, consumer products, and chemicals produced during manufacturing and industrial processes using cell-based assays and is working towards reducing animal testing whilst predicting a chemical’s effects on human health. 10,000 chemicals were screened through 30 different automated, cell-based assays and the team were able to partly predict animal and human toxicity however the information is not perfect and additional chemical structure data is needed for more accurate predictions.


Fertility effects observed when pregnant rats are given paracetamol

In a study where rats were given paracetamol or the aspirin-like drug indomethacin, female animals gave birth to smaller litters of offspring that had smaller ovaries and fewer eggs than those not exposed to the medicines. Males were affected too, having fewer cells that make sperm later in life. Even though foetal development is slower in humans than compared to rats, scientists said the findings were significant given the similarity of the two species' reproductive systems. Paracetamol is widely used to treat headaches, while prescription-only indomethacin reduces inflammation therefore this study could have implications for pregnant women.


28/01: Faster test for schistosomiasis in mice

A piece of kit that quickly multiplies the DNA of parasitic worms could detect infections by schistosome species more than six times faster than the most accurate existing method.

Test results published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases last week show that the device can detect infections by Schistosoma mansoni in mice with high accuracy from a drop of blood — and it can do so after only a week of infection.

This parasite is the main cause of the neglected tropical disease schistosomiasis (bilharzia). - See more at: http://www.scidev.net/global/disease/news/faster-schistosomiasis-diagnosis-disease.html#sthash.5TmBCBTZ.dpuf

29/01: A new e-learning resource focusing on the assessment of laboratory animal welfare has been launched to help researchers and animal care staff to identify signs of good and poor welfare in research animals.

Created by Professor Paul Flecknell and his team at Newcastle University, with funding from the NC3Rs, it is the second scenario-based training module to be added to the FLAIR e-learning site. Recipients of an NC3Rs Infrastructure for Impact award in 2013, the group from Newcastle are developing a range of web-based tutorials on best practice in the refinement of animal experiments.