Research Roundup: Cure for blindness, DNA delivered antibodies and more!

Welcome to this week’s Research Roundup. These posts aim to inform our readers about the many stories that relate to animal research each week. Do you have an animal research story we should include in next week’s Research Roundup? You can send it to us via our Facebook page or through the contact form on the website.

  • Rare benign tumors hold the ‘genetic recipe’ to combat diabetes. Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai are studying insulinomas — benign tumors that contain a mechanism for regeneration of insulin-producing human beta cells, in mice and humans. They are hopeful that this may hold the key to the development of better drugs for the millions living with diabetes. Dr. Andrew Stewart, Director of the Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine and lead author of the study said, “For the first time, we have a genomic recipe—an actual wiring diagram in molecular terms that demonstrates how beta cells replicate.” He and a team of international researchers analyzed the genomics and expression patterns of 38 human insulinomas and found a map for beta cell replication. These cells are required for insulin secretion which regulates sugar in the bloodstream. Lack of insulin leads to diabetes causing severe disease and even death.  The identification of this map offers a target for new drugs to help these patients.  This study was published online in Nature Communications.
  • DNA-delivered antibodies used to fight bacterial infections. Monoclonal antibodies are antibodies made by identical immune cells — basically clones of a unique parent cell. In the present experiment, mice were injected with the genetic sequence for a monoclonal antibody which targeted Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a life-threatening, multidrug-resistant bacterial pathogen. This approach allows antibodies to be produced in vivo within the host, and is in contrast to current methods which require large quantities to be delivered via intravenous drip. Mice were successfully inoculated using this approach, “providing a proof-of-concept for a potentially cheaper and faster alternative to current monoclonal antibody treatments.” This research was published in Nature Communications.
CRISPR–Gold is composed of 15 nanometer gold nanoparticles that are conjugated to thiol-modified oligonucleotides (DNA-Thiol), which are hybridized with single-stranded donor DNA and subsequently complexed with Cas9 and encapsulated by a polymer that disrupts the endosome of the cell.