This week in animal research: w/e 12 September
Xenon gas treatment after a head injury reduces the extent of brain damage according to research using mice. Mice were anaesthetised before a controlled mechanical force was applied to the brain. Mice treated with xenon gas shortly after injury performed better in tests of movement and balance, and also showed less damage to brain. Head injury is the leading cause of death and disability in people under the age of 45. Dr Robert Dickinson from the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London, who led the study, said: “After a blow to the head, most of the damage to the brain doesn’t occur immediately but in the hours and days afterwards. At present we have no specific drugs to limit the spread of the secondary injury, but we think that is the key to successful treatment.”
A stem cell treatment for blindness successfully tested in primates has been cleared for human clinical trials. Using monkeys the Japanese research team showed that retinal cells grown in vitro using the recipients own tissue did not provoke an immune response when implanted. There are also concerns that using stem cells could trigger tumours, but studies in both mice and monkeys have shown that this is very unlikely. The first stage of the trial will involve one human patient, who will receive their stem cell implant within days. Eventually the trial will extend to cover six patients.
Sequencing the genome of the gibbon has revealed an amazing amount of scrambling and reshuffling. Each of the sixteen gibbon species carries a distinct number of chromosomes in its genome, ranging from 38 to as many as 52, and it is believed that this contributed to the evolution of different gibbon species. Inside the genome the research team from Washington University, St Louis, identified a piece of DNA called a retrotransposon that is capable of controlling how chromosomes pair up during cell division. By altering how these genes work, this ‘rogue’ element has made the gibbon genome unstable. "We believe this is the driving force that causes, for want of a better word, the 'scrambling' of the genome," says research leader Wesley Warren. "It's a complete mystery still how these genomes are able to pass from one generation to the next and not cause any major issues in terms of survival of the species."
Vaccinated monkeys have developed "long-term" immunity to the Ebola virus, raising a prospect of successful human trials, say scientists. The experiments by the US National Institutes of Health showed immunity could last at least 10 months. Human trials of the vaccine started this week in the US and will extend to the UK and Africa.
A study from 1979 in which the impacts of massaging rat pups lead to understanding that the condition of premature babies drastically improves with the introduction of massage has earned a Golden Goose Award for federally funded studies that significantly impact society.
Infant rhesus monkeys receiving different diets early in life develop distinct immune systems that persist months after weaning, a study by researchers from UC Davis, the California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC) at UC Davis and UC San Francisco has shown.