This week in animal research 071016

7 October 2016

Posted by: UAR news team

Category: Communications & media

Nobel Success for animal research

The 2016 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine has been own by Yoshinori Ohsumi for his "discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy". His work, in yeast and mice, allowed us to better understand this important biological process used to recycle parts of a cell. He joins 210 other winners of the Prize so far.

How much do you know about the Nobel Prizes? Test yourself on our quiz and discover if you're a Nobel Laureate or a Nobel Liability. Share with friends and discover your inner-scientist.

Read more about this years' prize here:

A cure for HIV?

A man has been seemingly cured of HIV. A new therapy destroys the HIV virus across the body, including in dormant cells. It is still far too early to say whether the man has been completely cured, or whether the treatment would have the same impact in other people. The patient is the first of 50 people to complete a new drug trial.

How were animals used to test artificial arteries

Last week there was a story about how research at the University of Minnesota was building artificial blood vessels that could help children with congenital heart problems and be used in heart bypass surgery. In this article, we can see a closer look at how animal studies - mainly in sheep - played a crucial role in the development of this technology:

Gene therapy based on mouse studies

A new gene therapy for sickle celled anaemia could begin human trials next year. The therapy targets the gene BCL11A, which suppresses the production of haemoglobin. Early studies in genetically altered mice, born without the gene, pointed researchers towards this site as a potential treatment.

A new non-invasive method for studying neuronal ageing using imaging in the fruit fly has been developed

Dr Alessio Vagnoni has developed a new, non-invasive technique to study the transport of molecules in neurons using the fruit fly. Age-related neuronal dysfunction in diseases like dementia, has been linked to the axonal transport of molecules. However, studying this in ageing animals has been challenging due to the difficulties of imaging the process in mice. The procedure involve technically demanding and invasive surgical techniques. The new imaging technique takes advantage of the fly’s translucent wings and offers a quick and cost-efficient alternative to the mouse models.

Why do we yawn?

Researchers watched YouTube videos of 29 different yawning mammals, including mice, kittens, foxes, hedgehogs, walruses,  elephants, and humans. 

They discovered a pattern: Small-brained animals with fewer neurons in the wrinkly outer layer of the brain, called the cortex, had shorter yawns than large-brained animals with more cortical neurons.

Humans, with about 12,000 million cortical neurons, had the longest average yawn, lasting a little more than 6 seconds. African elephants, whose brains are close to the same weight as humans’ and have a similar number of cortical neurons, also lasted about 6 seconds. 

The study lends support to a long-held hypothesis that yawning has an important physiological effect, such as increasing blood flood to the brain and cooling it down, the scientists say.

Last edited: 7 October 2016 14:47