The week in animal research: w/e 3rd October

3 October 2014

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Category: Research & medical benefits

A drug originally used to suppress the immune system for people receiving organ transplants was found to have life-extending properties for yeast and worms. Now testing on mice increased their life by up to 14% despite the fact the animals tested were equivalent to 60 years old people. 

Tests shows that the Ebola treatment, Zmapp, was able to rescue 100% of macaque monkeys providing treatment was given up to 5-days “post-challenge”. “ZMapp exceeds the efficacy of any other therapeutics described so far, and results warrant further development of this cocktail for clinical use.”

Researchers at the University of Maine have created a zebrafish model of human influenza A virus (IAV) and have found treatment with anti-influenza compounds increased survival. It is hoped this model can further advance developments of treatments for the flu. Prof Carol Kim, a UMaine microbiologist, said: "The transparent zebrafish embryo allows researchers to visualize, track and image fluorescently labeled components of the immune response system in vivo, making it ideal for immunological research."

The Machau Picchu arboreal chinchilla rat, previously believed extinct has been re-discovered in the Peruvian cloud forests. ““I am optimistic that the discovery of the [Machu Picchu arboreal chinchilla rat] and other new species will help to strengthen the protection of the native forests.”

Exposure to dim lights at night made rats with human breast cancer tumours more resistant to the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin. However, scientists found that providing the rats with melatonin supplements prevented this increased resistance. Dr Stephen Hill said: “Although our research is very promising, it is not at a point where we can make recommendations to breast cancer patients taking either tamoxifen or doxorubicin about melatonin supplementation”

The Telegraph looked at its top 10 experiments taking place on the International Space Station. These include 20 mice being taken to space and X-rayed to see the impact of zero gravity, 30 fruit flies which will breed in space so that their offspring can be studied, and zebrafish and snails are being kept in a zero gravity tank to see the impact on zero gravity on muscle strength. “Mice have been into space before but not for such a long period of time. The effects of zero gravity on their bones will be measured using a special mouse X-Ray machine. Scientists say the mice tend to try to cling to walls in zero gravity but will observe if their behaviour changes.”

The Telegraph writes about the Giant Red Leech can reach over 50cm and can swallow a worm bigger than itself. Remaining on the theme of cold-blooded, red animals, a new species of poison dart frog. Despite being only 12.7mm long it bears the same poison used by hunters to make blowdarts.

Last edited: 7 October 2014 08:38