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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Alzheimer's Vaccine from Mice!?

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An exciting new vaccine has been found to be promising in preventing plaque formation in mice, one of the major causes of Alzheimer’s disease. These plaques are known as amyloid protein plaques. This novel form of a vaccine would be a preventative treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, stopping it before it ever began.

The vaccine works to stimulate the immune system to see the plaques as foreign to the body, and the immune system then attacks and destroys the plaques.

What is even more exciting about this vaccine is that it was found to have no side effects in the mice, unlike a previous vaccine the same research group had been working on. The previous vaccine was found to potentially cause swelling or inflammation of the brain. But, this newer vaccine works in a different way, and the preliminary studies in mice have shown none of the previous side effects.

More research is being done to see if this can be taken forward into humans. Let’s hope so!

You can check out the original journal article:
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Jun 20;103(25):9619-24. Epub 2006 Jun 12
Nonviral Abeta DNA vaccine therapy against Alzheimer's disease: long-term effects and safety.
Okura Y, Miyakoshi A, Kohyama K, Park IK, Staufenbiel M, Matsumoto Y.

or a BBC article written on it:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/5071036.stm

posted by Kristina Cook at 12:45 PM  

Thursday, June 29, 2006

New Web Address for Stand Up For Science

We have now set up the Stand Up For Science blog to be integrated with the newly designed Pro-Test webpage. This means that further articles and updates will not be published on this page, but on the new blog address http://www.pro-test.org.uk/StandUpForScience.html

Be sure to update your bookmarks, and I look forward to seeing you all on the new webpage!

Kristina

posted by Kristina Cook at 9:21 PM  

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Whew! More Human Lives Saved by Mice!!

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Scientists were testing a new treatment for Hepatitis B, called RNA interference, on a large number of mice, when a large number of them died after treatment.

RNA interference, aka RNAi, is becoming a widely used technique in laboratories. Essentially, what RNAi does is silence genes. It’s a relatively new form of gene therapy. It can be used (and is already being tested in humans in some cases), as a treatment for disease by silencing the genes that cause a particular disease. In today’s case they were trying to silence hepatitis B genes.

Unfortunately they saw rapid liver toxicity in a significant portion of the mice. While this serves as a setback to the scientist’s research, some of the cases were successful in turning off the Hepatitis B genes, and the mice lived.

After reanalyzing the data, the scientists realized that the dosage seemed to be partially related to the toxic effects. It also appeared that a new technique they had employed for delivering the RNAi, may not work as well as they thought, and might in fact be toxic.

So it may be back to the drawing board for the scientists- at least in looking for a new delivery method. But the good news is, some mice did recover. Perhaps with some tweaking, they may find a new way to treat Hepatitis B.

I am thankful that mice were trialed for this treatment. If they hadn’t have been used, it could have been one of us being tested for this new RNAi, and subsequently suffering liver poisoning. Luckily, for every human, the laws allow us to use mice for this purpose, and the mice caught a potentially deadly side effect, before it could be passed for use in humans. Three cheers for lab mice and new medical treatments!

For More Details: New York Times article

posted by Kristina Cook at 1:37 PM  

Monday, May 29, 2006

New Web Address for Stand Up For Science

We have now set up the Stand Up For Science blog to be integrated with the newly designed Pro-Test webpage. This means that further articles and updates will not be published on this page, but on the new blog address http://www.pro-test.org.uk/StandUpForScience.html

So be sure to update your bookmarks, and I look forward to seeing you all on the new webpage!

Kristina

posted by Kristina Cook at 4:49 PM  

Monday, May 01, 2006

"New” breast-cancer drug progresses to human trials

Author: Dr Imre Hunyor, guest writer on standupforscience

One purpose of this blog is to highlight the ever-increasing number of scientific findings that illustrate the benefits of animal testing for human health. Not all of us have time to digest the intricacies of peer-reviewed scientific journals and are forced to rely on the popular press to tell us about the latest medical research. Often, the reliance on animal testing is assumed and not reported.

This week, human trials have begun using a previously known anticancer drug, carboplatin, which could transform anticancer treatment for women who develop breast cancer as a result of a common genetic mutation (Reference 1 & 2). Carboplatin has been around for a long time and is often used in the treatment of lung and ovarian cancers, but has not been tested in the subset of breast cancer caused by mutations in the genes BRCA1 and 2 (present in about 5% of breast cancer patients). Carriers of a mutation in BRCA1 are thought to have a 50 to 85 percent lifetime risk of breast cancer and a 20 to 40 percent lifetime risk of ovarian cancer. Women with a mutation in BRCA2 appear to have a similar risk of breast cancer and a 10 to 20 percent risk of ovarian cancer (3).

Cancers are well known to arise from DNA mutations, so mimicking this in animals makes for a viable and accurate model. The key issue I would like to highlight here is that researchers had been able to create the genetic mutation in a breed of mice (4), and thus test carboplatin in this animal model of human disease. The rodent model demonstrated that cells with a mutation in the BRCA gene are more sensitive to carboplatin compared with normal cells.

Following confirmation in other laboratory experiments and pre-clinical trials, human clinical trials of carboplatin in patients with breast cancer and the BRCA1/2 mutation are now underway. Previous animal studies and years of use for the treatment of other cancers in humans have the allowed rapid progression to human clinical trials.

Animal testing is not a guarantee of a successful outcome in humans – but our understanding of breast cancer and the discovery that carboplatin could be effective for a subgroup of patients with the disease was possible through investigations involving animals.

(1) An excellent website describing the current trial and its scientific rationale (far more detailed than in this blog) can be found at www.geneticbreastcancertrial.usilu.net/Home.html
(2) Lung cancer drug may fight breast tumour in women , The Times, May 1, 2006.
(3) Haber, D. Prophylactic oophorectomy to reduce the risk of ovarian and breast cancer in carriers of BRCA mutations. N Engl J Med May 23; 346 (21) 1660-2 (2002)
(4) Fedier, A., et al. The effect of loss of brca1 on the sensitivity to anticancer agents in p53-deficient cells. Int J Oncol 22, 1169-73 (2003).

posted by Kristina Cook at 11:59 PM  

About the author

Kristina Cook Name: Kristina Cook

Location: Oxford, United Kingdom


My name is Kristina Cook and I am a first year DPhil (PhD) student in a mix of Chemistry/Biochemistry and Pharmacology at Oxford University. I am 23 years old. I just moved to Oxford from Washington DC, where I lived for two months as part of the graduate program I am in. Before this I had lived in San Diego, California for five years where I went to San Diego State University for my undergraduate education. In those five years I had the opportunity to further my science education by working for a wonderful small biotech/pharmaceutical company for three years, in the in-vitro pharmacology department. I also worked in an academic lab in synthetic chemistry, for two years. I am now out in Oxford, researching cancer angiogenesis, specifically some of the proteins involved, and looking for potential new ways of treating cancer.

This Blog

This page has been set up to promote scientific research and show support for animal research conducted ethically and intelligently. Recent news in science, discussions on science and animal research and guest writings by fellow scientists are just a few of the things you can expect to find here. Build the Oxford Lab!

Links

Article I published on Animal Testing
Click to Give a Free Mammogram to a Woman in Need
Research Defense Society Blog
One of the Many Articles on Our February Demonstration
Coalition for Medical Progress

Previous

Alzheimer's Vaccine from Mice!?
New Web Address for Stand Up For Science
Whew! More Human Lives Saved by Mice!!
New Web Address for Stand Up For Science
"New” breast-cancer drug progresses to human trials
Macaque Studies Find Potential AIDS Preventative Treatment
Recent Breakthrough in Medicine Thanks to Animal Research!
Why Animal Research is Important AND Needed: A Copy of the Speech I Gave on the February 25th Demonstration
Facts about Animal Research
The Dawn of a New Age: Standing up, Proud and Tall, For Animal Research and The Oxford Lab

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