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Science & Research News


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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.

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Sniffing for science

Bonnie, a sleek border collie mix, is practically vibrating with excitement. After getting a signal to start her search, her owners release her. She bounds, snuffling and wriggling, to a stainless-steel wheel, roughly 4 feet in diameter, with 12 numbered ports along its edge. Upon locating her target, she crouches down to signal her find, only to spring back up as she hears a mechanical click and cries of, “Good girl! Well done!” She finds her owner to receive a treat, and then gets ready to do it all over again.

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Want to reduce emissions? Start in the gut of a cow.

As concern about climate change rises, researchers are working to develop innovative strategies to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The Penndemic, a fictional scenario, presented to 81 Penn students, constituted the launch of an infectious disease outbreak simulation exercise.

Staging the plague

A child with a swollen armpit and high fever dies in Washington, D.C. The cause is found to be Yersinia pestis, the bacteria that causes plague. Two days later, a 35-year-old man goes to a Philadelphia-area hospital with similar symptoms and is later confirmed to also have the plague. If you’re a public-health professional, what questions do you have? What do you need to know in order to protect your community?

Penn Vet, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists will lead a team in developing a stem cell-based approach to treat blindness in dogs.

Multidisciplinary team to develop stem cell-based approaches to restore vision

A team from the University of Pennsylvania, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison are launching a project to develop new strategies for treating vision disorders using cells implanted in the retina. 

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.