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Science & Research News


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Is treatment forever? Success of gene therapy for inherited blindness depends on timing

Nearly two decades ago, a gene therapy restored vision to Lancelot, a Briard dog who was born with a blinding disease. This ushered in a period of hope and progress for the field of gene therapy aimed at curing blindness, which culminated in the 2017 approval of a gene therapy that improved vision in people with Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), a rare, inherited form of blindness closely related to the condition seen in Lancelot. It represents the first FDA-approved gene therapy for an inherited genetic disease.

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The diet-microbiome connection in inflammatory bowel disease

Much remains mysterious about the factors influencing human inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), but one aspect that has emerged as a key contributor is the gut microbiome, the collection of microorganisms dwelling in the intestines.

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Lung cell transplant boosts healing after the flu

Some cases of the flu are so severe they cause lasting injury to the lungs. New research from the University of Pennsylvania now points to a strategy that may one day offer protection against this damage.

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University of Pennsylvania Researcher Earns 100,000 Grant

The Leukemia Research Foundation is proud to announce a grant of $100,000 in blood cancer research funding to M. Andres Blanco, Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine in Philadelphia, PA, for the research project titled Dual Targeting of LSD1 and KAT6A to Induce Therapeutic Differentiation in AML. The one-year grant is awarded through the Foundation’s Hollis Brownstein Research Grants Program for New Investigators.

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Keeping parasites from sticking to mosquito guts could block disease transmission

A group of microorganisms known as kinetoplastids includes the parasites that cause devastating diseases such as African sleeping sickness, Chagas disease, and leishmaniasis. They share an ability to adhere to the insides of their insect hosts, using a specialized protein structure. But what if scientists could prevent the parasite from adhering? Would the parasites pass right through the vectors, unable to be passed on to a human?

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Annual Boehringer Ingelheim Awards Showcase Emerging Veterinary Talent

A veterinary student conducting research into stem cell repair, another studying the use of CAR T cells against canine B cell lymphoma, and a student with an interest in equine neuromuscular disorders and protein aggregate diseases are being recognized for their efforts -- and the promise they hold -- by Boehringer Ingelheim’s Animal Health business.

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Small horned dinosaur from China, a Triceratops relative, walked on two feet

Many dinosaur species are known from scant remains, with some estimates suggesting 75% are known from five or fewer individuals. Auroraceratops rugosus was typical in this regard when it was named in 2005 based upon a single skull from the Gobi Desert in northwestern China. But that is no longer the case.

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What about regenerative medicine?

While stem cells are often considered essential for regenerative medicine, many of our fully developed somatic tissues already possess great capacity for regeneration.

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A new drug target for chemically induced Parkinson’s disease

More than three decades ago, scientists discovered that a chemical found in a synthetic opioid, MPTP, induced the onset of a form of Parkinson’s disease. In a new study led by scientists from the School of Veterinary Medicine, researchers found that an enzyme in the body can metabolize compounds formed in the brain from alkaloids present in certain foods and tobacco into MPTP-like chemicals, triggering a neurodegenerative condition in mice.

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Meaningful science, with students at the helm

Shoulder to shoulder at a lab bench in the basement of Penn’s Levin Building, Sonia Luthra, Johanna Fowler, and Tracy Tran compare small microscope slides they’re preparing.

Fowler, a rising junior at Haverford College, and Tran, a rising sophomore at Penn, observed Luthra’s technique, drawing a sample of canine blood carefully across the slide to make a thin smear. The high school senior at Friends Central School had a leg up on the undergrads: whereas their 10-week project was only just beginning, Luthra had already logged a month in the lab.

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Novel model for studying intestinal parasite could advance vaccine development

The intestinal parasite Cryptosporidium, which causes a diarrheal disease, is very good at infecting humans. It’s the leading cause of waterborne disease from recreational waters in the United States. Globally, it’s a serious illness that can stunt the growth of, or even kill, infants and young children. And people with compromised immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS, are also highly susceptible. There is no vaccine and no effective treatment.

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Better prognosticating for dogs with mammary tumors

Mammary tumors in dogs are the equivalent of breast cancers in people, and, as in the human disease, the canine tumors can manifest in a variety of ways. Some are diagnosed early, others late, and they can be either slow growing or aggressive.

Gene doping in equines can now be tested for, thanks to Penn Vet researchers.

New Bolton Center Developing Biological Passports, With Help From Pennsylvania Breeders

It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie: Rows of vials in a laboratory freezer, each containing detailed biological maps of what's going on inside the bodies of dozens of horses at specific moments in time. The frozen blood samples might one day hold the keys to making racing clean and drug-free, predicting injuries before they happen and helping veterinarians fight illness with new and powerful tools. Sound too good to be true? Researchers at Penn Vet's New Bolton Center hope it's not.

Mitochondrial damage is linked to the bone degradation seen in osteoporosis

A Link Between Mitochondrial Damage and Osteoporosis

New research from the School of Veterinary Medicine lays out a possible mechanism by which alcohol, cigarette smoke, and exposure to certain medications and toxins can weaken bone.

Some risk factors for osteoporosis such as being older and female or having a family history of the condition cannot be avoided. But others can, like smoking cigarettes, consuming alcohol, taking certain medications, or being exposed to environmental pollutants. But until now researchers haven’t gained a firm picture of how these exposures link up with bone loss.

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Unlocking the female bias in lupus

The autoimmune disease lupus, which can cause fatigue, a facial rash, and joint pain, strikes females far more often than males. Eight-five percent of people with lupus are female, and their second X chromosome seems partly to blame. According to a new study by Penn researchers, females with lupus don’t fully “silence” their second X chromosome in the immune system’s T cells, leading to abnormal expression of genes linked to that chromosome.

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Johne’s Disease and the enteric microbiome

Paratuberculosis (or Johne’s Disease (JD)) is a chronic gastrointestinal disease of cattle caused by an infection with Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP). Infection with MAP results in inflammation of the intestinal lining, chronic diarrhea, weight loss, and is ultimately fatal. 

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A bad bout of flu triggers ‘taste bud cells’ to grow in the lungs

Most people who weather an infection with influenza fully recover after a week or two. But for some, a severe case of the flu can actually reshape the architecture of their lungs and forever compromise their respiratory function.

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Making headway against a killer virus

Ebola just isn’t going away. Following the major 2014 outbreak in West Africa, the deadly infection came back with a vengeance last year in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it has claimed nearly 550 lives to date.

The impact has been felt closer to home as well.

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Hindering melanoma metastasis with an FDA-approved drug

For cancer to spread, it needs a hospitable environment in distant organs. This fertile “soil” can provide a home to circulating malignant cells. Recent research has shown that cancer cells from the primary tumor can help ready this soil by sending out small vesicles. These vesicles contain a cocktail of molecules that “educate” healthy cells to prepare the target tissues for cancer cells to seed and thrive. Blocking this process offers one strategy to stop metastasis, which is often responsible for cancer’s lethality.

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Tolerance, Transplant Immunology

In collaboration with scientists and clinicians, Dr Raimon Duran-Struuck established a liver, kidney, bone marrow and pancreatic islet pre-clinical transplant program.