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Science & Research News


Making a Difference for Triple-negative Breast Cancer Patients

Immune cells involved in triple-negative breast cancer could offer future therapeutic target

 About 15 percent of breast cancers are classified as triple-negative, lacking receptors for estrogen, progesterone, and Her2. These cancers do not respond to targeted hormonal therapies, and they tend to be particularly aggressive, often resisting systemic chemotherapy and metastasizing to other tissues.

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Penn Vet, Penn Medicine, and CHOP to Host Fifth Annual Microbiome Symposium Featuring New York Times Columnist and Science Writer Carl Zimmer

Microbes are a critical component of human health. Scientists recognize that an imbalance in our bodies’ vast community of life-sustaining microbes can lead to heart disease, diabetes, auto-immune disease, and cancer. Methods for studying microbes have greatly improved in recent years. Researchers now understand the tremendous potential in managing microbe populations that can lead to positive, healthy outcomes.

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Cutting-edge science moves to the clinic to help ‘our furry friends’ fight cancer

Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine has long been a scientific and clinical powerhouse. But the launch of an initiative last year is further bolstering those strengths in the areas of cancer research and care.

Dr. Mason Receives NIH Research Award

Penn Vet’s Nicola Mason Receives NIH Research Award to Target Therapies for Autoimmune Disease in Dogs

Nicola J. Mason, BVetMed, PhD, associate professor of Medicine and Pathobiology at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn Vet), and Aimee S. Payne, MD, PhD, the Albert M. Kligman Associate Professor of Dermatology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, have received the prestigious NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award.

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Ventilating with mixture of helium and oxygen improves outcomes for horses in surgery

A horse in general surgery is an awkward sight. For the best access, the animals may be placed on their sides or even their backs, a position that puts considerable pressure on their internal organs, often leading to partial lung collapse. In spite of using oxygen-rich ventilation, blood oxygen levels can fall to dangerous levels during lengthy procedures.

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Laminitis—a crippling equine disease

Dr. van Eps’ research goal is to identify the key pathophysiological events that lead to different forms of laminitis in order to develop clinically applicable means of preventing this crippling equine disease.

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Knockdown and replace: A gene therapy twofer to treat blindness

The last year has seen milestones in the gene therapy field, with FDA approvals to treat cancer and an inherited blinding disorder. New findings from a team led by University of Pennsylvania vision scientists, who have taken gene therapies into clinical trials in the past, are proving successful, this time treating a form of retinitis pigmentosa, a disease that progressively robs people of their night and peripheral vision before blindness develops.

The Changing Landscape of Mosquito- and Tick-borne Diseases

The changing landscape of mosquito- and tick-borne diseases

Sara Cherry has a visceral memory of when Asian tiger mosquitoes, Aedes albopictus, first found their way into the Philadelphia region.

“I used to like to eat outside with my lab when I first started working here at Penn,” she says. “But then the tigers came and started terrorizing us and we had to eat inside. They are aggressive, and their bites cause welts.”

Ichthyosis-A Skin Disorder Affecting Dogs and Humans

Progress in addressing a severe skin disease that affects dogs and humans

Think of the skin as a kind of raincoat for the inner organs. With its densely packed layers of cells and lipids, it keeps foreign substances from leaking in and keeps water from leaking out, preventing dehydration. But in certain skin disorders, this barrier breaks down, and problems arise.

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Meiosis and Fertility

Dr. Wang’s research interests are centered on the genetic regulation of germ cells in mice and humans, focusing on meiosis, transposon silencing, maternal factors, sperm motility, male infertility, and male contraception.

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

PA Horse Breeders Association Joins with Penn Vet New Bolton Center to Fund Cutting Edge Research into Gene Doping, Improve Integrity of Horse Racing

As part of its ongoing commitment to maintaining integrity in the horse racing industry, the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association (PHBA) has donated $300,000 to Penn Vet New Bolton Center’s Equine Pharmacology Laboratory to fund revolutionary research to detect gene doping in equine athletes. Gene doping involves the transfer or modification of genes or genetically modified cells of healthy human athletes, as well as equine athletes, for non-therapeutic purpose to enhance athletic performance.

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Recent grad Meghan Ramos helps people by training animals

“Go, Osa!” says Meghan Ramos, a recent graduate of Penn’s Veterinary Medicine program. Osa, a German shepherd, runs over to a wheel, carefully sniffing one of eight arms that extend from the scent wheel’s center. At the end of each arm is a blood serum that contains either malignant or benign ovarian cancer, a normal, cancer-free serum, or a distractor scent. Osa’s trained to detect blood serums that contain malignant ovarian cancer.

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Assets in the opioid epidemic, working dogs can also become its victims

It’s hard to overstate the magnitude of the nation’s opioid crisis, which claims more than 100 lives each day due to overdoses. The impact of opioids radiates beyond the direct users, however, as secondary exposure to drugs can harm first responders such as police officers, firefighters, and even working dogs, which can use their perceptive noses to find illicit drugs.

Dr. Chakrabarti's Lab at Penn Vet is studying stem cell signaling and its relationship to breast cancer.

Stem cell signaling drives mammary gland development and, possibly, breast cancer

The human body develops most tissue types during fetal development, in a mother’s uterus. Yet one only tissue develops after birth: the mammary gland. This milk-producing organ, a defining characteristic of mammals, is also the site of one of the most common cancers, breast cancer, which affects roughly one in eight women in the United States over the course of their lifetime.

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Dr. Cynthia Otto awarded for her work with the human-animal bond

Dr. Cynthia Otto, founder and executive director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center at the University of Pennsylvania, has been named the winner of the 2018 Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award.

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

Veterinary experts work to stay ahead of equine doping

Elite athletes train for years to reach the top of their game. Yet some succumb to temptation, using performance-enhancing drugs to gain a slight edge over their competitors.

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Innovative vaccine offers canine cancer patients a shot at a longer, happier life

Osteosarcoma is the most common bone cancer to affect dogs. It is a painful and aggressive disease. Affecting more than 10,000 dogs annually, predominantly larger breeds, it kills more than 85 percent within two years. 

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How working dogs are sniffing out cancer

At Penn, collaboration is as ingrained in the culture as innovation. And, it turns out, some teams end up having quite the crew. One specific group—working to detect early stage ovarian cancer—maintains experts spanning obstetrics and gynecology, chemistry, physics, and veterinary care. It also includes human’s best furry friends: dogs.

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Cancer and Autoimmune Disease

Immunosuppression by regulatory T cells—the key to reducing some autoimmune diseases—Regulatory T cells (Tregs) play a critical role in immunosuppression and therefore have the potential to reduce or prevent harmful autoimmune and inflammatory immune responses.

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Penn Vet Announces Student Research Awards Recognizes Scholarly Achievements of VMD and VMD-PhD Candidates

Forty-five students presented their research, conducted over the course of one year, during last week’s Student Research Day held at the Vernon and Shirley Hill Pavilion at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet). Dr. Patricia Conrad, from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California at Davis, delivered the keynote lecture.