Research Roundup: Deep sea crustaceans and cancer treatments, freeze drying organs for later transplantation and more!

Welcome to this week’s Research Roundup. These Friday 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.

  • Cracking the Brain’s Enigma Code. Researchers are working to decode neural signals into movements as a way to advance brain-controlled prosthetic devices. Dr. Eva Dyer wanted to find out if cryptography could be used to decode neural signals into movements. She worked with three monkeys to gather the data needed for her proposed decoder. The monkeys were trained to perform specific actions while their neural activity was measured. The study results showed that the new decoder only required general statistics about movements, versus the very detailed data needed by traditional decoders, and could effectively predict movements. They also found that movement patterns from one monkey was also able to be applied to that of another monkey, which is not currently possible with current decoders. Since movements are often similar across animals and people, Dyers team is hopeful that this may be able to reduce the time and effort involved in collecting meticulously detailed movement data. This study was published in Nature Biomedical Engineering.
Macaque. Kathy West. CNPRC.
Photo credit: NOAA.gov
  • Once-a-week pill for HIV shows promise in animals. A team of researchers work with pigs to develop a slow-release mechanism to deliver HIV drugs. Giovanni Traverso, of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said: “We wanted to come up with a system to make it easier for patients to stick to taking their treatments. The mechanism is taken as a regular pill but once it reaches the stomach, a star-shaped device unfolds and begins to slowly release the medication. More studies are needed in other species such as nonhuman primates to confirm its effectiveness and safety. Clinical trials for the mechanism may begin within the year with researchers hopeful to begin clinical trials that include the HIV medication in two years. Preliminary studies are also evaluating its use for other diseases such as malaria. This study was published in Nature Communications.

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