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Animals

Medical

Transplanted pig heart kept ticking for over two years

Researchers from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in Bethesda, Maryland, have managed to keep a pig heart beating for 945 days inside the body of a live baboon. This record-breaking outcome leaves scientists hopeful for the potential for xenotransplantation, the transplantation of animal organs or tissues into humans, to address worldwide organ shortages.Read More

Science

Could lab-grown mini-brains replace animal testing?

If you keep even a casual eye on the world of medical research, then you'll known that animal testing is a ubiquitous part of the process. New drugs are routinely tried out on laboratory animals, usually rodents, before clinical trials are considered. Now, researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have developed a possible alternative, creating "mini-brains" made up of a similar mix of cells and neurons found in the human brain.Read More

Medical

Cultured liver cell microreactor might replace animal testing

Finding alternatives to animal testing is an important endeavor. While the practice has been banned in the cosmetic products industry since 2013, it's still a central part of evaluating the effectiveness and dangers of new medication, with researchers usually using laboratory rodents to test out their latest drugs. Now, a team lead by scientists at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology has created a microbioreactor that has the potential to provide medication testing using cultured liver cells rather than animals.Read More

Biology

Beastcam gets quick 3D scans of live critters

When studying wild animals such as sharks, it can be difficult to get ahold of one every time you want to check something out. Having a 3D model of the creature would certainly help, although getting a shark to sit still for several minutes while being scanned could be quite the challenge. That's why a University of Massachusetts Amherst team led by biologist Duncan J. Irschick created the portable, quick-scanning Beastcam. Read More

Biology

New software provides an animal-eye view of our colorful world

Have you ever looked at a flower and thought, "I wonder what these colors would look like to a bee"? Perhaps not, but in any case, you can now find out using your own camera and computer. That's because scientists from the University of Exeter have developed the Multispectral Image Calibration and Analysis Toolbox, a piece of free software that lets you see the colors in photos the way that various animals would see them.Read More

3D Printing

Synthetic rhinoceros horn could help save real rhinos

When asked to name an endangered species, rhinos are probably one of the first animals to come to most peoples' minds. In both Africa and Asia, poaching is causing populations to plummet, due mainly to demand for rhino horn as an ingredient in traditional Asian medicine – whether or not it actually has any medicinal value is another question altogether. In any case, San Francisco-based biotech startup Pembient is developing what it hopes could be a solution: inexpensive bioengineered rhino horn, which could out-compete the genuine item.Read More

Medical

Photoswitch therapy restores vision to blind lab animals

A new genetic therapy that helped blind mice and dogs respond to light stimulus could restore sight to people who suffer from diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa (a gradual loss of vision from periphery inwards). The therapy uses chemicals known as photoswitches, which change shape when hit with light, to open the channels that activate retinal cells. Treated mice can distinguish between steady and flashing light, while dogs with late-stage retinal degeneration also regain some sensitivity to light.Read More

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