Characterized in film and media as ferocious and malicious creatures, sharks ignite our basic survival instincts: kill or be killed. However, antibodies in the blood of these ocean carnivores could lead to a new treatment for breast cancer, the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in women in the United States.
Researchers using data from terriers have found an area on the canine chromosome 8 that is associated with glaucoma. This same chromosome has been associated with glaucoma in humans, providing hope that when the exact gene and mutation are identified in the terriers, they will match a similar gene and mutation in humans. Such a discovery would open the door to more effective therapies so that dogs and people could keep their precious sense of sight intact.
The naked mole rat, a blind, nearly hairless rodent about the size of a mouse that lives underground, might provide the secret to reducing brain damage caused during a stroke. Thanks to these rodents, scientists know a lot more about how neurons survive in low-oxygen conditions. Armed with this new knowledge, they are working to find a way to prevent or minimize the impact of stroke, not only on seniors but also the 34% of people hospitalized for stroke who are under the age of 65.
Researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of USC are studying the alligator for clues how to regenerate teeth in humans. The tooth structure of alligators is surprisingly similar to that of humans, except that an alligator has eighty teeth, each of which can be regenerated up to fifty times in a single day. The frequency at which American alligators can regenerate teeth is due to the activation of dormant stem cells which trigger the growth of a new tooth when the alligator loses one.
The tiny fruit fly could hold the answers to many of the mysteries surrounding ALS. Scientists are currently studying genes that are believed to play a role in the disease in hopes that they can develop targeted gene therapies. One study in fruit flies revealed a method of reducing the toxicity associated with a key ALS protein, a strategy to slow the loss of neuron function.
Hearing loss has many causes including genetic disorders, extended exposure to dangerously loud sounds and normal aging. Hearing aids can’t repair the damage regardless of the cause. Taking a different approach that uses biology and technology, researchers at Princeton are developing a bionic ear that contains biological and electronic materials, including bovine or cow cells, silicone, and silver nanoparticles. The structure of cartilage cells from cows is similar to that of human cells, and bovine cells are much easier to obtain.