If you have ever played a video game, you know that precision is the goal. Now imagine that busting cancer cells is your target, and pieces of genetic material called aptamers are your helpers. Cancer researchers are exploring aptamers as a promising new approach to targeting cancer treatment.
Scientists are studying White Leghorn chickens which have similar cholesterol levels to humans to understand atherosclerosis- the build-up of cholesterol in arteries. It triggers coronary artery disease, the number one killer in the United States, in which accumulations of cholesterol called plaques form on artery walls.
Epileptic seizures occur when the normal pattern of neurological activity is disturbed, causing convulsions, muscle spasms, and loss of consciousness. Fruit flies are viable for research in human diseases, as they share 75% of the genes that cause diseases in humans and hope to find the genetic cause of febrile seizures, which are brought on by high fever.
Spina bifida is a neural tube birth defect where the baby’s backbone and its surrounding membranes fail to properly develop. Researchers found one genetic mutation in Weimaraners that causes spina bifida, which is also present in humans, but not found in any other dog species.
Due to a buildup of plaque which hardens arteries, atherosclerosis can lead to complications, such as heart attack or stroke. Researchers breed Japanese quail to increase their susceptibility to dietary-induced atherosclerosis to understand the role of fatty foods in cardiovascular disease.
Researchers are studying zebrafish to determine which genes are involved in regeneration. If these genes can be found and expressed in humans, a damaged heart could essentially heal itself, speeding recovery from heart attacks and perhaps preventing heart failure.
Having high levels of cortisol in your blood for long periods of time can lead to chronic stress which has many negative health effects. Surprisingly, having high levels of cortisol is not always bad, especially if you are a North American red squirrel. Scientists are studying the impact of population density on survival found that pregnant red squirrels in a more crowded forest had higher cortisol levels and produced babies that grew faster.
MS researchers genetically screen zebrafish to uncover neuron receptors and have successfully found a receptor that can instruct certain cells to remake myelin. Since zebrafish are about 70% similar to humans in their protein-coding genes, scientists look for genes in the zebrafish genome that control the rebuilding of the myelin sheath and are optimistic about finding a cure to MS.
In the early 90s, an endocrinologist and research scientist named John Eng discovered a hormone in the Gila monster’s saliva similar to one in the human digestive tract that keeps blood sugar levels from spiking or dropping too low. He named the hormone exendin-4 and began exploring its tremendous potential as a treatment for type 2 diabetes. Exendin-4 is improving the lives of people with type 2 diabetes and has great potential for treating devastating neurological disorders.
Fragile X Syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by a mutation on the X-chromosome that is the most common inherited form of intellectual disability. Clues to this syndrome, which manifests in a wide spectrum of behavioral and learning problems, may be buzzing overhead. The common fruit fly has genes similar to those responsible for causing FXS in humans, making this household pest the perfect partner for scientists searching for a cure for a disease that is also linked to autism.