Neuroblastoma is a rare form of cancer that doesn’t occur in the wild- only in humans. Scientists have recently found that neuroblastoma is caused by a mutation in the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene. Drosophila melanogaster, or fruit flies, also have the ALK gene and may be able to serve as animal models for this rare disease.
Not only is the Arabian horse a non-rodent, large animal that can be used to enhance our understanding of the hematopoietic system, but its susceptibility to SCID and its long life span also make it optimal for SCID research. Since adverse events (such as the development of leukemia) can unfortunately arise in bone marrow treatment for SCID, this non-traditional research model can be used to test the efficacy and safety of alternative therapies, like gene therapy and stem cell transplantation, before being clinically implemented in humans.
Leprosy is a serious disease that attacks the nerves, skin, eyes, and immune system. The Nine Banded Armadillo has given researchers insight into leprosy because the armadillo is also susceptible to this disease. These curious mammals have transformed an age-old nightmare into a potentially curable disease and have given sufferers a ray of hope.
Most children will experience at least one episode of otitis media, or a middle ear infection, by the time they reach age three, making it one of the most common pediatric infections in the world. For years, rats, mice, and even monkeys gave researchers some insight into how this infection behaved within animal models; however, chinchillas stand out today as the only lab animals with similar enough ear structure to humans and in which otitis media can be easily produced by squirting very small amount of bacteria into the nose.
Many elderly people suffer from osteoporosis, the significant bone loss that can increase the risk of fracture. This disease affects more than 10 million Americans and is the underlying cause behind 1.5 million fractures every year. Rather than develop osteoporosis, black bears' bodies have made evolutionary adjustments to prevent bone loss during disuse and a team of research scientists have been investigating the secret behind the integrity of bears' bones.
The cause of DMD, a degenerative disorder that affects nearly 1 in 3,500 male babies, has been attributed to a lack of dystrophin protein. Due to the dystrophin gene’s location on the X chromosome, males, who need only one copy of the gene to contract DMD, are twice as likely to be diagnosed with it as females. Despite valiant efforts, no cure for DMD currently exists. Scientists now think that hope may lie within a common friend - the golden retriever.