Experimental Biology 2014 by Kara Rosania 26–30 April 2014
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San Diego Convention Center San Diego, CA Attendees: >14,000
San Diego was home to this year’s annual Experimental Biology meeting, which brought together six sponsoring societies (American Association of Anatomists, The American Physiological Society, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, American Society for Investigative Pathology, American Society for Nutrition and American Society for Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics) and multiple guest societies. Attendees r epresented university and academic institutions as well as government agencies, non-profit organizations and private corporations. The multidisciplinary meeting featured plenary and award lectures, workshops and oral and poster sessions on fields of study including anatomy, physiology, pathology, biochemistry, n utrition and pharmacology. Thermoregulation in laboratory animals was a popular topic at the meeting. The Henry Pickering Bowditch Award was presented to Kazuhiro Nakamura of Kyoto University (Japan) for his groundbreaking research on the central thermoregulatory system. He discussed how body temperature is influenced not only by ambient temperature but also by psychological stress (such as social defeat), immune stress (such as infection) and metabolic stress (such as starvation), all triggering either hyperthermia or hypothermia via the same signaling pathways. With this in mind, several researchers debated the optimal housing temperatures for mice with consideration of study-specific factors including stress, caloric restriction, sex and estrogen levels and brown adipose tissue content in a series of p resentations on “Defining the thermoneutral zone of laboratory mice.” Another featured topic at the meeting was novel roles of h ormones in trauma. Peter Mittwede (University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson) presented his research on how lean and obese rats respond to trauma differently: in obese rats, hyperglycemia induces oxidative stress, which leads to acute kidney injury. Mittwede’s group studied this phenomenon by developing a technique to mimic bilateral femur fracture without actually b reaking the bone, in order to improve the welfare of the rats by maintaining their mobility. To replicate the biochemical environment after a bone fracture, they induced a c rushing injury to the tissue and injected a suspension of bone marrow components to the injury site. They found that when injured obese rats were treated with a NAPDH oxidase inhibitor, which prevents oxidative stress, acute kidney injury was prevented. LAB ANIMAL
Some unique animal models of human diseases were p resented. A symposium titled “Neurobiology of disease: from model organisms to humans” introduced novel mouse models of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and familial dysautonoma. A minisymposium on animal models of nutrient metabolism included an interesting presentation by Jennie Zambito (West Virginia University, Morgantown) on the influence of weight loss on insulin sensitivity in the horse. When naturally obese horses were put on a 30% reduced calorie diet for 12 weeks, significant decreases in body fat and rump thickness were correlated with more normal glucose and insulin responses. A symposium titled “Lessons from the canine genome for human cancer therapy” included presentations on the role of miR-9 in canine o steosarcoma (Joelle Fenger, Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Columbus) and the challenges of developing immunotherapies for cancer that can overcome the immunosuppressive barrier in dogs (Jaime Modiano, University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, St. Paul). Both presenters discussed the value of modeling canine cancers in mice in order to determine the roles of various genes in these diseases. Other presentations focused on improving the a pplicability of animal studies to human health. During a workshop titled “Translation of cardiovascular endpoints across species,” Hossam Shaltout (Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC) addressed the issue of how heart rate variability (HRV), the variability in the time between heartbeats, differs between species. Because HRV is reduced in disease states and can be used as a measure of disease progression, accurate translation of this measure between species is needed. Other presenters in this workshop discussed the use of confusion matrices to assess the power of preclinical drug assays in animals to predict drug effects in humans. Derek Leishman (Eli Lilly & Co., Indianapolis, IN) showed how these matrices reveal which drugs have sufficient sensitivity and specificity in animals to warrant testing in human clinical trials. Using the same confusion matrices to assess aggregated data from several years’ worth of preclinical drug trials, Jill SteidlNichols (Pfizer Inc., Groton, CT) found that drug-induced effects on heart rate and blood pressure in rats are predictive of these effects in dogs and nonhuman primates, which in turn are predictive of drug effects in humans. She cautioned, however, that indicators of drug risk tend to be more reliable than indicators of drug effectiveness.
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