Breakthroughs and Horizons in Bioscience Archive

This series brings forth essays that illustrate recent breakthroughs in biomedical research and their importance to society. It also highlights the important role animal models play in biomedical research and discovery.
Hard copies of the Breakthroughs in Bioscience and Horizons in Bioscience series are available upon request. Please include the desired article, quantity and purpose for the publication's use with your inquiry.

Optogenetics: Illuminating the Brain - Listen to the Podcast

Conquering Pain and Infection with Drugs from Nature's Medicine Cabinet - Seventy percent of our drugs for pain and infection are either derived from or inspired by natural products of rainforests and other ecosystems. These medicinal compounds have dramatically improved quality of life and significantly extended the human lifespan. Through decades of basic research to identify new drugs and unravel the underlying mechanisms of action, researchers are developing newer, more powerful therapies.

How Biomedical Research Provides Fertility Hope to Cancer Survivors 

Spying on Cancer with PET Scans The ability to peer inside the body non-invasively has revolutionized modern medicine. With positron emission tomography (PET), physicians can not only look at the body’s internal structures, but can see the metabolic signs of disease.

Life's Blood: Angiogenesis in Health and Disease Angiogenesis, or the formation of new blood vessels, plays a critical role in a number of diseases and conditions, including cancer, diabetic retinopathy, and wound healing.

Magic Bullets and Monoclonals: An Antibody Tale Nearly a century of basic discovery in immunology, cell biology, and cancer biology contributed to today's remarkable monoclonal antibody therapies, which are produced through human-mouse cell hybrids.

Bone Buildings: The Science of Grafts, Biomaterials, and Bone Engineering The science of bone grafting and bone biomaterials has provided extraordinary therapies for patients who have suffered bone loss through traumatic injury bone cancer or birth defects.

Building Electronic Bridges to Bionics: The Basic Science of Neural Prosthetics The development of neural prosthetics which can help restore hearing sight and movement to those who have lost these functions is a culmination of centuries of basic research.

Breathtaking Discoveries: How Basic Research Led to Treatments for Asthma
Fundamental research on the underlying causes of asthma has resulted in a greater understanding of this complex condition and the development of improved and diverse treatment options.

Viruses, Cancer, Warts and All: The HPV Vaccine for Cervical Cancer The understanding that human papillomavirus (HPV) could cause cervical cancer was the result of decades of fundamental research on wart- and cancer-causing viruses, including the virus from which the legend of the jackalope arose, as well as the study of cervical histology.

Science, Serotonin, and Sadness: The Biology of Antidepressants Basic research into the fundamental functions of the brain transformed our understanding of depression into a treatable, biological condition.

Breast Cancer, Tamoxifen & Beyond: Estrogen and Estrogen Receptors Sheep and chickens prove important in breast cancer research. Ewes and hens served as crucial animal models in early studies to understand how estrogen worked and how it affected breast tumor development.

Cholesterol: From Biochemical Riddle to Blockbuster Drug for Heart Disease Decades of fundamental research on the mysterious and ubiquitous molecule cholesterol led scientists to understand its role in causing atherosclerosis and heart disease.

Finding Chinks in the Viral Armor: Influenza, AIDS and Antiviral Therapies: New concerns over a global pandemic of avian influenza, similar to that occurring in 1918 are leading to preventative elimination of poultry stocks in Asia. But thanks to scientists studying the fundamentals of how viruses work and how they are structured we now have the tools to combact viruses that cause influenza, polio, AIDS and other viral diseases.

Clot Busters! - Discovery of Thrombolytic Therapy for Heart & Stroke The venom from a Malaysian pit viper contains an anticolagulant drug which is being studied for use in treating stroke patients. This drug improves blood flow by reducing the amount of fibrinogen ( clotting protein) in the blood plasma. The saliva from vampire bats serves as the basis for a new candidate for a thrombolytic therapeutic.

Bubbles, Babies and Biology: The Story of Surfactant Pregnant ewes and premature lambs served as crucial animal models in early studies of using steroid treatment to prevent Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS).

From Viper’s Venom to Drug Design: Treating Hypertension In the development of drugs to treat high blood pressure, dogs and rabbits helped scientists understand how the body controls blood pressure. In addition, ACE inhibitors (an anti-hypertensive) were designed based on experiments with snake venom.

Genetic Research: Mining for Medical Treasures "Knock-out" mice, in which specific genes have been inactivated, have been tremendously useful in helping researchers understand the genetic basis of disease. Moreover, "knock out" mice also serve as animal models for human diseases, allowing researchers to develop treatments and diagnostic tests for genetic diseases.

New Weapons to Combat an Ancient Disease: Treating Diabetes The discovery that insulin could be used to treat diabetes was made using dogs as models for what was, at that time, a fatal condition. Mouse models are currently being used in the ongoing effort to understand and treat type II diabetes.

Transplantation: The Challenging Road Ahead Using experiments involving mice, scientists developed methods for re-educating the immune system to tolerate organ transplants. Additionally, rabbits serve as critical models for techniques related to corneal transplants, now a common place medical procedure.

Targeting Leukemia: From Bench to Bedside As researchers discovered effective treatments for leukemia, there remained a stumbling block: the drugs that killed leukemia cells were unable to penetrate into the brain and spinal cord. Fortunately, using animal models, scientists were able to develop a direct injection and irradiation protocol that eliminated this problem.

Bone Builders: The Discoveries Behind Preventing and Treating Osteoporosis The discoveries that led to creating of drugs to treat osteoporosis came out of multiple animal studies, including those involving cows, rats and dogs.

Making Anesthesia Safer: Unraveling the Malignant Hyperthermia Puzzle The causes and prevention of malignant hyperthermia, a violent and sometimes deadly reaction to anesthesia, were discovered with help from pigs, who served as perfect models for this sudden onset condition.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging: From Atomic Physics to Visualization, Understanding and Treatment of Brain Disorders
MRI is now an invaluable, noninvasive tool in the diagnosis and treatment of brain disorders. Researchers learned how to refine and interpret MRI images based on work done with animal models.

Helicobacter pylori and Ulcers: A Paradigm Revised
While investigating the relationship between the bacteria H. pylori and stomach ulcers, researchers were able to create mouse models of related gastrointestinal diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease or Crohn’s syndrome. These models offer a way for scientists and physicians to test potential new treatments, as well as assisting them in understanding the underlying biology of these devastating illnesses.

Be sure to check out these additional titles in the Breakthrough series, to learn more about how basic bench research and animal models lead to medical advancements:
Cloning: Past, Present, and the Exciting Future
Unraveling the Mystery of Protein Folding
Cardiovascular Disease and the Endothelium
The Polymerase Chain Reaction
Blood Safety in the Age of AIDS
Serendipity, Science, and a New Hantavirus