November 27th 2023


EARA News Digest 2023 - Week 48

Welcome to your Monday morning update, from EARA, on the latest news in biomedical science, policy and openness on animal research. 

This week: Vitamin kidney treatmentDog gene as cancer treatment?Pollution & heart function

Vitamin treatment for damaged kidneys

A new vitamin treatment for kidneys, which have been damaged by chronic inflammation, could help avoid the need for dialysis or transplantation, following studies in mice.

Researchers at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf and University Hospital Bonn, in Germany, found that specific immune cells called mucosal-associated invariant T cells (MAIT cells), in the kidneys, play a protective role in both mice and human patients with kidney inflammation (glomerulonephritis) – a lack of these cells was also linked to more severe disease development.

MAIT cells are activated by derivatives of vitamin B2 (also known as riboflavin) and vitamin B9 (folate), and by giving mice an artificial version of this B2 derivative they were partially, though not entirely, protected from glomerulonephritis.

This approach may supplement current therapies and make them more effective, according to the researchers.



Cancer treatment for golden retrievers?

A gene in dogs linked to increased lifespan may also lead to cancer treatments for humans and animals.

US researchers, at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), looked at genes associated with longevity in golden retrievers – who have a 65% chance of dying from cancer – to understand how their prospects could be improved.

The team compared the DNA of pets that had either died before 12 years, or were alive at 14 years. This showed that certain variants of a gene called HER4 meant dogs lived longer by a difference of almost two years.

HER4 is part of a group of human genes that includes HER2, which is well known to accelerate the growth of cancer cells.

Robert Rebhun, at UC Davis, said: “If we find that this variant in HER4 is important either in the formation, or progression of cancer in golden retrievers, or if it can actually modify a cancer risk in this cancer predisposed population, that may be something that can be used in future cancer studies in humans.”



Pollution and heart function – fish & mice study

UK researchers have used animal studies to understand the detrimental effects of specific fuel pollutants on heart function.
Pollution is already a known risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, and irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias).

However, the research, led by EARA member the University of Manchester and funded by the British Heart Foundation, focused on understanding the health effects of specific pollutants, called polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), found in various fuels derived from crude oil.
The findings, in Environmental Health Perspectives, revealed that one of these pollutants disrupted the heart function in sea fish, that had been exposed to pollution, due to an ocean crude oil spill.

Further investigations, using zebrafish and mice, delved into why these pollutants are toxic to the heart and make it more prone to arrhythmias.
Holly Shiels, from the University of Manchester, explained the significance of the animal research: "Due to the conserved nature of cardiac function among animals, fish exposed to PAH from oil spills can serve as sentinels, providing insights into the human health impacts of PAHs."

Register in SPCAL

Registration is fast and allows you access to exclusive and reserved contents for registered users on page of the Portuguese Society of Sciences Laboratory in Animals.

Make registration