Browsing "Animal Science"

Run For Research Awareness!

Run For Research Awareness!

Registration is now OPEN to anyone, anywhere! Visit the link below to sign-up for the Homes for Animal Heroes Virtual 5K and become a Fundraiser as a Team Captain, join an existing team, or make a donation!

Homes for Animal Heroes Virtual 5k

5k

Virtually every treatment, cure, vaccine, diagnostic and surgical procedure available today has been made possible through research involving animals. If you have ever taken cold or allergy medicine, used an asthma inhaler, had an x-ray, been treated for cancer, received insulin, taken antibiotics (just to name a few), YOU have directly benefited from research involving animals.

Homes for Animal Heroes (HAH) is a national network that works with the research community to rehome former research dogs into their forever homes, and share the TRUTH about biomedical research! We need your support in order to expand the HAH network and rehome animal heroes in every US state!

Click here to JOIN the RACE to Rehome Animal Heroes & Raise Awareness for Research!

Also: don’t forget to visit the Homes for Animal Heroes website and to like the Homes for Animal Heroes Facebook page!

Oct 16, 2015 - Animal Science    No Comments

Fighting Cancer with Elephants

Thanks to the recent study published by Pediatric Oncologist, Dr. Joshua Schiffman and his colleagues, the elephant’s resistance to cancer, and how it may be applied to humans has been in the news a lot recently:

Of the nearly 650 elephants analyzed, Schiffman’s team found that only about 5% died from cancer. That’s an incredible statistic, considering the cancer mortality rate in humans ranges from 11% to 25%.

This is some fascinating stuff, and what you might not know is the role the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation (CET) is playing in this exciting research. Check this out:

Instrumental to this research is elephant DNA, and Dr. Schiffman needed a diverse gene pool to effectively study to species. Because the CEC has the largest herd of Asian elephants in the Western Hemisphere, the Feld Family felt compelled to help support this research. The incredible bond the staff has with these majestic animals, and the hands-on care provided at the Center for Elephant Conservation, allows the experts at the CEC to easily provide the blood samples Dr. Schiffman needs to further his research.

Dr. Dennis Schmitt, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Chair of Veterinary Services and Director of Research, and Dr. Wendy Kiso, Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation Research and Conservation Scientist, and other scientific collaborators on their team, have identified a key genetic link, called P53, that helps to protect both Asian and African elephants from developing cancer. The P53 gene’s job is to make sure that none of the cells in the body develop cancer. By studying the DNA in blood from elephants and the DNA in blood from patients with cancer, the team discovered that elephants have 40 copies of this P53 gene that attacks cancer while a healthy person has two copies.

Very cool findings! As humans work to preserve these majestic animals, will they in turn provide us with important keys in the battle against cancer? That would be certainly be poetic.

Oh — and by the way, Dr. Wendy Kiso will be presenting on the challenges and opportunities in saving the Asian Elephant at this year’s NAIA conference, in case you haven’t signed up already!

CEC

Aug 11, 2015 - Animal Science    No Comments

Cat Eyes, Sheep Eyes, Measures and Countermeasures

If you’ve ever wondered why cat’s eyes look so cool, check out this explanation that covers both predator and prey:

We found animals with vertically elongated pupils are very likely to be ambush predators which hide until they strike their prey from relatively close distance. They also tend to have eyes on the front of their heads. […]

In contrast, horizontally elongated pupils are nearly always found in grazing animals, which have eyes on the sides of their head. They are also very likely to be prey animals such as sheep and goats.

Why is this? Essentially, modeling shows that vertically elongated pupils allow a predator the ability to judge distances without moving its head, thus giving prey fewer opportunities to notice its approach. At the same time, prey with elongated horizontal pupils and eyes on the sides of their head are able to see nearly the entire area around their bodies, providing them with a keen early warning system against predators.

Pretty neat stuff — definitely worth reading about!

Vertical elongated pupils assist predators in ambushing... horizontal elongated pupils assist prey in spotting  (and hopefully escaping) ambushes!

Measures and Countermeasures

 

 

Aug 3, 2015 - Animal Science    2 Comments

The Veterinary Profession Evolves: Sterilization Dogma Reconsidered

Arnold L. Goldman DVM, MPH

“Gonadectomy in Dogs,” in other words, the sterilization of dogs by removal of testes or ovaries was the subject of a recent roundtable webinar created collaboratively by a Florida multi-specialty veterinary hospital, Coral Gables Animal Hospital, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). It can be viewed here.

The creation and intent of the webinar is to acknowledge that recent research shows that the sterilization procedures discussed are “not as innocuous” as previously believed to be, that today we recognize sterilization “reduces the risk of some cancers and medical conditions, but increases the risk of others” and that veterinarian’s thinking on this subject is “evolving.” The description of the program states: “Honest and transparent conversations must take place within the profession as well as between veterinarians and pet owners.”

In the webinar several veterinary specialists and a generalist discuss and debate some of the new information on sterilization and the new questions raised relative to what veterinarians have long advocated, sterilization for most.

The discussion centers primarily on the medical aspects of sterilization surgery, and what is most notable is just how uncertain the doctors are that the long held dogma of “sterilize everything and early” is still the right thing to tell their clients. I interpret what they say and also what they do not say as indicating that the point-of-view of these veterinarians has shifted to one of a more open-minded, wait-and-see point of view regarding elective sterilization surgery. You can almost hear some of them struggling to avoid undermining what they may still believe will be vindicated in the long term, that sterilization is good for individual animals.

If it turns out that sterilization is not in the medical interests of most individual veterinary patients after all however, no veterinarian wants to be in a position of continuing to advocate for something that harms their patients. And that is the key point: that veterinarians in individual animal practice are first obligated to their own clients and patients, and only then to any broader societal goals. We must always place our individual patients first.

That point-of-view may pose an internal ideological conflict for a shelter-employed veterinarian, who may see their individual patients, pre-adoption, mainly as elements of a larger societal enterprise, one dedicated to reducing un-owned or unwanted animals, unintended reproduction, euthanasia of healthy animals and all the forms of human irresponsibility that leads to these things.

Still, once an animal is owned and that animal is brought to a veterinarian, regardless of the animal’s origins, for that veterinarian, that owner and that patient, the patient’s interests must come ahead of any broader goals of the organization or facility from which the animal came. That is what our Oath instructs and what the public expects of us.

Veterinarian’s Oath
Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.
I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.
I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.

Jun 1, 2015 - Animal Science    No Comments

Man’s Best Friend Might Be Older Than We Thought…

Could dogs have been around a lot longer than we thought?

A group of researchers discovered an ancient wolf bone and say its DNA suggests dogs diverged from wolves 27,000 to 40,000 years ago — not 11,000 to 16,000 years ago, as previous research has suggested.

This is an interesting finding — not just because we love dogs and are fascinated by them (though that certainly helps), but the earlier date suggests dogs lived with humans during hunter-gatherer times, rather than after the advent of agriculture. Very cool read!

Cool Wolf

Did dogs diverge from wolves earlier than we thought?

 

Read the report here: Ancient Wolf Genome Reveals an Early Divergence of Domestic Dog Ancestors and Admixture into High-Latitude Breeds.

May 12, 2015 - Animal Science    No Comments

Solving Problems for Animals, Providing Insight into Human Issues

Have read over this old UC Davis article about treatment for newborn horses with neonatal maladjustment syndrome several times, and wanted to talk about it. Unfortunately, we’ve been struggling with what to what to say, because they cover virtually all the angles in the article — we’d be doing little more than paraphrasing, why bother with commentary? So with that in mind, just follow the link and read it. It’s fairly substantial, but well worth it if you are interested in the issues it touches on: animal welfare, veterinary science, and even autism.

It is a fascinating, heartwarming, and inspirational piece illustrating ingenious problem solving that improves the lives of animals and those who care for them — with the potential for understanding and helping human beings down the road, as well.

MareAndFoal

Veterinary researchers have reduced the symptoms of maladjustment in foals by employing the “Madigan Foal Squeeze Procedure,” which mimics the pressure normally experienced in the birth canal. Foals are up and about, join the mare and begin nursing afterward.

 

 

Jan 30, 2015 - Animal Science    No Comments

Potential Seen in Late-Stage Rabies Treatment

We don’t hear a lot about rabies in the United States. Post-exposure treatment is the norm (which has close to 100% success rate if administered promptly — always before symptoms appear), and human deaths from the disease are extremely rare.

And that’s great. If you live in the United States.

But if you live in, say, India, rabies is a very serious and far-too-common disease, especially for the young and poor.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are more than 200 million stray dogs worldwide and that every year, 55,000 people die from rabies, while another 15 million receive post exposure treatment to avert the deadly disease. 95% of these cases occur in Asia and Africa, and 99% of the fatalities are caused by dogs.

And to make matters worse, once symptoms appear, it’s too late: the victim virtually always dies.

But what if you could treat rabies once symptoms appear? That’s what scientists at the University of Georgia are working on. Working with mice to develop new treatments, they have managed to save 50% of the mice beyond the “cutoff point” of neurological symptoms appearing, and they are just getting started:

“This is only the beginning of our work,” said co-author Biao He, a professor of infectious diseases at Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “While these preliminary results are very exciting, we are confident that we can combine this new vaccine with other therapies to boost survival rates even higher and rescue animals even when symptoms are severe.”

Again, here in the U.S. it might not seem like a huge deal, but in parts of the world where contact with rabid animals is commonplace, this could be a huge — think 55,000 huge — lifesaver. What amazing work these people are doing!

“There is an urgent need in many parts of the world for a better rabies treatment, and we think this technology may serve as an excellent platform,” said study author Zhen Fu, a professor of pathology at the college. “Ultimately, we just want to try to save more lives.”

Just how many lives can a mouse save?

Just how many lives can a mouse save?

Nonsurgical Pet Sterilization: With Great Power…

Another day, another story about nonsurgical pet sterilization.

This is always exciting news. A one-time injection would be so much simpler than surgical sterilization: non-invasive, painless, easier for both animals and the people who care for them.

The vast majority of owned pets in the United States are already spayed or neutered, but the majority of strays and animals taken in by rescues or shelters are not (think: feral cats) — and they need to be sterilized before being released (TNR) or adopted out. It is easy to do the math and see how this could make life easier for everybody.

Of course, if sterilization becomes as easy as administering a shot, it is just as easy to do the math and see how this could be a bad thing in the hands of an overzealous or immoral person.

As always, exciting news that should be tempered with an ounce of caution. As a great philosopher once said: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Cat Outdoors

Oct 24, 2014 - Animal Science    No Comments

Three Deaf Mice? Not Anymore!

Some amazing results from the world of animal science: scientists have successfully restored hearing in deaf mice!

By inserting and activating certain genes:

The mice that produced extra NT3 regained their hearing over a period of two weeks and were able to hear a lot better than mice that did not have extra production of the protein.

Next stop: humans suffering hearing loss from noise exposure or aging. It really wasn’t that long ago that people looked to instrument makers and ear trumpets for relief — a bulky, imperfect solution; actually recovering hearing is simply an awesome feat!

Don’t forget to hug a scientist (and a mouse) this weekend!