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.
- New “immunobiotic” to tackle antibiotic resistance. New research has highlighted a promising new method to overcome the looming antibiotic resistance crisis — fusing antibiotics to a molecule, that together with the immune system, bind and kill bacteria. This “immunobiotic” is based off of previous research which harnessed the power of the immune system to eradicate cancer. Tests on nematode worms showed that the drug was successful in wiping out the bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This groundbreaking research holds much hope and promise — at least 2 million people are infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics each year.
- Mice lay the foundation for using virtual reality to treat glaucoma. Andrew Huberman, a researcher at Stanford University, worked with mice to coax the neurons in their brains responsible for vision to regenerate. His work included gene therapy and visual stimulation which resulted in the ability for the mice to see better. He and others are hopeful that gathering data on whether this approach is effective will help speed up potential treatment for the many glaucoma patients who are desperate for something that will stop the disease.
- Research in mice has identified a virus that appears to strengthen the immune system over time. Typically, the human immune system weakens with age. However, scientists studying cytomegalovirus (CMV), which is estimated to be carried by over half of the population, say the virus appears to strengthen the body’s defense systems, including white blood cell responses. Published in PNAS.
- Using mice, a group of scientists have designed a cancer drug that is able to “eat” diseased cells. The treatment works by strengthening the abilities of white blood cells to detect and attack cancer cells. In studies with mice, the therapy worked in attacking aggressive breast and skin tumors. The researchers believe the technology could be used along with other cancer treatments such as checkpoint inhibitors. The research team says they hope to begin human trials within a few years. Published in Nature Biomedical Engineering.
- Collaborative study across six National Primate Research Centers provides new data on pregnancy loss after Zika infection. A study of 50 pregnant Zika virus (ZIKV)-infected rhesus monkeys across six of the seven National Primate Research Centers has revealed that pregnancy loss due to asymptomatic ZIKV infection may be a more common — and far less recognized — in humans than previously thought. To study this, researchers infected rhesus monkeys with ZIKV at various times in gestation and found that 26% of monkeys infected in early gestation experienced fetal loss later in pregnancy, despite showing few clinical signs of infection. The authors write that the rates of fetal death in macaques underscore the need for careful monitoring of fetal loss and stillbirth in Zika-affected human pregnancies. Published in Nature Medicine.