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Science & Research News


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Answers to microbiome mysteries in the gills of rainbow trout

While many immunologists use mouse models to conduct their research, J. Oriol Sunyer of Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine has made transformational scientific insights using a very different creature: rainbow trout.

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Treatment in a FLASH

Radiation therapy to treat cancer can be grueling, requiring consecutive days of therapy over days or weeks. "When you talk to patients about coming in for 35 treatments, or seven weeks of daily therapy, usually their face kind of sags in disappointment or perhaps apprehension,” says Keith Cengel, a radiation oncologist at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine.

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Taking on wildlife disease

When wildlife biologist Matthew Schnupp began his career, the emphasis was on conserving habitat. “The paradigm of wildlife management for the last 20 years has been habitat management,” he says, aiming to conserve the land and ecosystems animals require to thrive.

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A roadblock for disease-causing parasites

The threadlike parasite Dirofilaria immitis causes the debilitating canine heartworm disease. A related parasite, Brugia malayi, infects humans and is one of the parasites responsible for lymphatic filariasis, a neglected disease that affects 120 million and can give rise to elephantiasis, characterized by disfiguring and painful swollen limbs.

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What we do and don’t know about the novel coronavirus

Until a month ago, it’s possible to never have heard of coronavirus, despite the fact that science has known about this family of seven viruses since the 1960s. Four are common, causing mild or moderate respiratory symptoms like a runny nose and sore throat, all of which dissipate quickly. 

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With a protein ‘delivery,’ parasite can suppress its host’s immune response

Toxoplasma gondii is best known as the parasite that may lurk in a cat’s litter box. Nearly a third of the world’s population is believed to live with a chronic Toxoplasma infection. It’s of greatest concern, however, to people with suppressed immune systems and to pregnant women, who can pass the infection to their fetuses.

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Eight new pups report for duty

More sure-footed and confident by the day, the U litter puppies of the Working Dog Center are not yet 3 months old, yet are already a month into their training to use their agile bodies and sensitive noses to serve society.

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A new role for a triple-negative breast cancer target

These changes require energy. In a study using a new, genetically altered mouse model, researchers led by Rumela Chakrabarti of Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine have uncovered a key protein involved in supplying the mammary gland with fuel during puberty. It’s a protein that her group had earlier shown to play a role in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), a particularly aggressive form of the disease

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

Fingerprints of an invisible, restricted horseracing therapy

A treatment called extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) is used in patients both human and equine to speed healing of injured tendons and ligaments. Using high-pressure sonic waves, ESWT is thought to increase blood flow to the treated area, and has been shown to reduce pain over the short term.

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Penn Vet Scientists Receive Two of Six Penn Center for Innovation Annual Commercialization Awards

[December 9, 2019; PHILADELPHIA, PA – Three researchers from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn Vet) are among the recipients of the annual Innovation awards from the Penn Center for Innovation (PCI), which recognizes the six most significant scientific discoveries or partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania during the preceding twelve months.

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Predicting treatment outcome for leishmaniasis

For patients with cutaneous leishmaniasis, a skin infection transmitted by a sand fly that can lead to painful and disfiguring ulcers, treatment can be grueling. The first-line therapy offered to many requires daily infusions of the metalloid pentavalent antimony for three weeks, and half of patients don’t respond to just one round of therapy. Some fail two or even three courses. And the side effects of therapy can range from mere irritation to far more serious conditions.

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Estrogen’s opposing effects on mammary tumors in dogs

Dogs that are spayed at a young age have a reduced risk of developing mammary tumors, the canine equivalent of breast cancer. Early spaying reduces levels of estrogen production, leading many veterinarians and scientists to cast estrogen in a negative light when it comes to mammary cancer.

The importance of wild animal health

Penn Vet and the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) recently initiated the Pennsylvania Wildlife Futures Program (WFP), a new science-based, wildlife health program that will increase disease surveillance, management and innovative research aimed at better protecting wildlife across the Commonwealth. 

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Genes play a role in dog breed differences in behavior

Given the dazzling array of dog breeds, from dachshunds to mastiffs, from poodles to bloodhounds, it’s easy to forget that most of that diversity arose only in the last few centuries or so, thanks to human tinkering. People have bred dogs for their looks, but the lion’s share of breeding efforts have taken aim at eliciting particular behaviors, according to the University of Pennsylvania’s James A. Serpell.

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Identifying a gene for canine night blindness

Creating an effective gene therapy for inherited diseases requires three key steps. First, scientists must identify and characterize the disease. Second, they must find the gene responsible. And finally, they must find a way to correct the impairment.

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Penn Vet Opens the First Academic Extracellular Vesicle Core Facility in the United States, Supports Investigators in the Growing Field of Extracellular Research

[PHILADELPHIA, September 12, 2019] - A new core facility, the first on the east coast to exclusively focus on the isolation and characterization of extracellular vesicles, has opened at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet). The Extracellular Vesicle Core Facility at Penn Vet supports investigators with the necessary scientific and technical capabilities to define, standardize and monitor research in pathological and physiological conditions.

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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.