This Week in Animal Research 5th-11th July

11 July 2014

Posted by: UAR news team

Category: Research & medical benefits

week-animal-research-2.jpgThe notion that, for a very small number of people, it is possible to be obese but healthy has been explored using genetically modified mice. The researchers used human subjects to identify a protein called HO-1, that has been linked to early insulin resistance. Mice that had the gene for this protein deactivated gained as much weight as normal mice when fed a high fat diet, but showed far lower levels of insulin resistance. 

The chytrid fungus is one of the major causes of amphibian population loss. Many species of frogs and toads are susceptible to the deadly disease and its spread is difficult to control. now researchers have shown that with each exposure to the fungus, the toad’s and frog’s immune systems strengthened their response. This immune response even occured after exposure to killed fungus, raising the possibility of vaccinating the amphibians.

Cisplatin may be used to treat a variety of cancers, but it is most commonly prescribed for cancer of the bladder, ovaries, cervix, testicles and lung. It is an effective drug, but many cancerous cells develop resistance to the treatment. Researchers constructed a modified version of cisplatin called Platin-M, which is designed to overcome this resistance by attacking mitochondria within cancerous cells. This has shown promising results in mice, but will need more testing before clinical trials can begin.

Mice exposed to low doses of arsenic in drinking water, similar to what some people might consume, developed lung cancer, researchers have found. Although arsenic is known to be a carcinogen, this latest study has shown that very low levels - potentially within legal bounds - could raise the risk of lung cancer.

Although a few cancer therapies derived from human medicine are available for dogs, antibody treatments have not been available for animals so far. Antibody therapies have been highly successful in humans but they must be adapted for each species to prevent an immune reaction. Now scientists have developed for the first time, antibodies to treat cancer in dogs. This new treatment is similar to the human therapy cetuximab, which was originally based on a mouse antibody. 

The diet of a female mouse not only impacts upon her immediate offspring, but on the health of her grand offspring as well. Mice that were starved during pregnancy were more likely to give birth to pups that later develop diabetes, and their offspring were also at risk of the disease even when they ate normally. A new study provides fresh evidence for the controversial idea that chemical or ‘epigenetic’ alterations to the genome — which influence gene activity, but not the DNA sequence — can transmit the effects of environmental exposures across multiple generations.