TAG: "Veterinary medicine"

Cleft palate discovery in dogs to aid in understanding human birth defect


UC Davis study also shows that dogs have multiple genetic causes of cleft palate.

This puppy is a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, the breed with the newly discovered genetic mutation for cleft palate.

UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine researchers have identified the genetic mutation responsible for a form of cleft palate in the dog breed Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers.

They hope that the discovery, which provides the first dog model for the craniofacial defect, will lead to a better understanding of cleft palate in humans. Although cleft palate is one of the most common birth defects in children, affecting approximately one in 1,500 live human births in the United States, it is not completely understood.

The findings appear this week online in the journal PLOS Genetics and are available online at https://tinyurl.com/knr8wb3.

“This discovery provides novel insight into the genetic cause of a form of cleft palate through the use of a less conventional animal model,” said professor Danika Bannasch, a veterinary geneticist who led the study. “It also demonstrates that dogs have multiple genetic causes of cleft palate that we anticipate will aid in the identification of additional candidate genes relevant to human cleft palate.”

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Wildfire smoke, exposure linked to reduced immune system, lung functions


Researcher studied monkeys living outdoors and exposed to pollution during 2008 widlfires.

In the study, investigators found a link between reduced immune system function and abnormalities in lung function, particularly in female animals. (Photo by Kathy West, California National Primate Research Center )

In the study, investigators found a link between reduced immune system function and abnormalities in lung function, particularly in female animals.

California wildfires in 2008 led to a natural experiment with monkeys living outdoors at the California National Primate Research Center at the University of California, Davis, showing for the first time that exposure to high levels of fine particle pollution affects both development of the immune system and lung function.

“These animals were breathing the same air that we were breathing, so from a health point of view, it’s very significant,” said professor Lisa Miller, who carried out the study and leads the center’s Respiratory Diseases Unit. Miller noted that the monkeys, which live in outdoor corrals, would have received a higher dose than human residents of Davis.

In June 2008, widespread wildfires in Northern California caused notable smokiness in the Davis area. Over a period of 10 days levels of small particles classed as PM2.5 (inhalable particles smaller than 2.5 microns) at the UC Davis campus were recorded at 50 to 60 micrograms per cubic meter. Some readings reached nearly 80 micrograms per cubic meter, well over the federal standard of 35 micrograms per cubic meter.

The California National Primate Research Center houses about 5,000 animals, mostly rhesus macaques. Many of the animals are born and live outdoors in large family groups of 100 or more. Infants are born in late spring and early summer.

With funding from the California Air Resources Board, Miller, a professor at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, tested lung function and took blood samples from monkeys that were born during the 10 days of peak air pollution.

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Treating the inner animal in all of us


New veterinary, comparative medicine center advances health care, human and otherwise.

Peter Ernst, UC San Diego

Peter Ernst, UC San Diego

Discoveries about how diseases arise or are transmitted in animals can be useful in understanding the same sorts of afflictions in humans. Similarly, new therapies or techniques used in people may be effective in caring for animals as well.

The newly established Center for Veterinary Sciences and Comparative Medicine (CVSCM) at the UC San Diego School of Medicine embodies this ideal – a highly integrated and innovative consortium of universities, institutions, scientists, physicians and veterinarians seeking to improve the condition of all animals, human and otherwise.

“By understanding the biology of disease, either in people or in animals, all benefit,” said Peter Ernst, D.V.M., Ph.D., professor of pathology at UC San Diego School of Medicine and founding CVSCM director. “We want to use the lessons learned and advances made in human healthcare to improve the lives of animals and vice versa.”

The CVSCM features a faculty of 25 academic veterinarians from UC San Diego School of Medicine, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, The Scripps Research Institute, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Sea World and the San Diego Zoo.

It builds upon UC San Diego’s long-standing post-doctoral training program in laboratory animal and comparative medicine and has close links to the UC Veterinary Medical Center-San Diego, a collaboration between UC San Diego Health Sciences and the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

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Help send holiday wishes, coats to pets of homeless


UC Davis Mercer Clinic seeks donations for holiday pet basket drive.

Sweaters and coats are a main stay of the gifts given through the clinic. The pets also receive toys, treats, leashes, food and pet-care products.

Sweaters and coats are a main stay of the gifts given through the clinic. The pets also receive toys, treats, leashes, food and pet-care products.

If pets of the needy and homeless in our region could write to Santa, their wish list might include a new sweater or coat to ward off winter’s chill.

Community members now have the opportunity to help Santa deliver on those wishes through the Mercer Clinic holiday pet basket drive, annually coordinated by a team of staff volunteers at UC Davis’ William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.

Monetary donations are needed to help the volunteers fill 130 holiday-wrapped boxes with toys, treats, leashes, food and pet care products, as well as sweaters and coats. The boxes will be distributed on Saturday, Dec. 14, to pet owners attending the monthly Mercer Veterinary Clinic for the Homeless in Sacramento.

“Our Holiday Pet Basket program is celebrating its 18th year, and we are grateful to members of the public for the generous monetary donations that have allowed us to continue,” said Eileen Samitz, who coordinates the holiday basket program.

“We are reaching out again for help to continue providing pet coats and sweaters, which are a more recent addition to our program and are so needed to help these beloved pets of the homeless get through the cold winter months.”

While pet supply companies provide the food and some of the other items for the holiday pet baskets, monetary donations for the coats, sweaters, toys, treats, clinic supplies and operational costs are still needed.

Checks, made payable to the UC Regents – Mercer Holiday Pet Baskets, can be mailed to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Office of the Dean, P.O. Box 1167, Davis, CA 95617-1167, Attn: Mercer Holiday Pet Baskets.

Donations also can be made online by choosing the “Mercer Clinic Holiday Pet Baskets” option.

For more information about how you can help the Mercer Holiday Pet Basket program, please contact coordinator Eileen Samitz, (530) 756-5165 (evenings), emsamitz@ucdavis.edu, or visit the program’s website.

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New SARS-like virus discovered in Chinese horseshoe bats


Research is first time scientists have isolated a live SARS-like virus from bats.

Horseshoe bat (Wikimedia Commons/Lylambda)

Horseshoe bat (Wikimedia Commons/Lylambda)

Scientists have discovered a new SARS-like coronavirus in Chinese horseshoe bats, according to a new study published today (Oct. 30) in the journal Nature by a team of international researchers, including a wildlife epidemiologist from the University of California, Davis.

The research team isolated and cultured the live virus that binds to the human SARS ACE2 receptor, proving that it can be transmitted directly from bats to people.

The study describes how the team uncovered genome sequences of a new virus closely related to the SARS coronavirus, which erupted in Asia in 2002 and 2003 and caused a global pandemic crisis.

The research is the first time that scientists have been able to isolate a live SARS-like virus from bats. It will allow them to conduct detailed studies to create control measures to thwart outbreaks and provide opportunities for vaccine development.

“This work shows that these viruses can directly infect humans and validates our assumption that we should be searching for viruses of pandemic potential before they spill over to people,” said co-author and UC Davis professor Jonna Mazet, co-director of PREDICT, a project of USAID’s Emerging Pandemic Threats program. PREDICT, which partially supported the study, is designed to target surveillance of wildlife populations and identify potential pandemic viruses before they emerge. Mazet is also director of the One Health Institute and Wildlife Health Center at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

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Parrot-on-a-treadmill study gives valuable research experience


UC Davis summer research program supports veterinary students.

Amy Lin adjusts the treadmill speed for a parrot in her study. Lin was one of 13 participants from this year’s STAR program to attend the 2013 Merial-NIH Veterinary Scholars Symposium at Michigan State University, which will be hosted at UC Davis in 2015.

Amy Lin adjusts the treadmill speed for a parrot in her study. Lin was one of 13 participants from this year’s STAR program to attend the 2013 Merial-NIH Veterinary Scholars Symposium at Michigan State University, which will be hosted at UC Davis in 2015.

Summer may signal a break from classes, but for second-year veterinary student Amy Lin, it was also an opportunity to conduct research that may guide her future career choice. As one of 33 participants in the Students Training in Advanced Research (STAR) program, Lin designed and conducted a study to determine the effects of exercise on Hispaniolan Amazon parrots with high cholesterol levels.

“The program has allowed me to not only conduct research, but gain clinical skills in bird handling, which gives me additional confidence if I choose to pursue avian medicine,” Lin said.

Between 30 and 35 veterinary students are accepted annually to participate in the highly competitive STAR program through the school’s Office of Research and Graduate Education, which provides coordination and funding. Over the course of 10 weeks, students practice oral and PowerPoint presentations on their findings. Their experience culminates in a poster session for the school.

Some go on to present at scientific meetings while others pursue publication. Fourth-year student Jenna Winer’s 2012 STAR project (in collaboration with UC Davis senior Shannon Liong and veterinary school Professor Frank Verstraete), “The dental pathology of the southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis),” made the cover of the August-October 2013 issue of the Journal of Comparative Pathology. A second paper forthcoming from this project can be found here.

“Our goal is to identify, nurture and support veterinary students who may want to pursue academic research careers,” said Isaac Pessah, associate dean of research and graduate education. “Those who plan a traditional practice also benefit by learning to evaluate new knowledge and how it may apply to future patients.”

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Identification of new cattle virus will help rule out mad cow disease


Findings give researchers a diagnostic tool for ruling out mad cow disease.

SteerA new cow virus that causes neurologic symptoms reminiscent of mad cow disease has been identified and its genome sequenced by a team of researchers including scientists at the University of California, Davis.

While this particular new virus is unlikely to pose a threat to human health or the food supply, the new findings are critically important because they provide researchers with a relatively simple diagnostic tool that can reassure both ranchers and consumers by ruling out bovine spongiform encephalopathy — mad cow disease — as the cause of neurologic symptoms when they appear in cattle.

Results of the study appear online in the September issue of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Neurologic disease in cattle can be difficult to diagnose because there are a number of different causes, and pre-mortem sampling and analyses can be cumbersome and/or expensive,” said Patricia Pesavento, a veterinary pathologist in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and corresponding author on the paper.

“Understanding the role of this virus is crucial for veterinarians as well as for the dairy and beef cattle industries,” she said. “Additionally, finding new viruses helps us identify other, more remote viruses because it builds our knowledge of both the depth and breadth of viral family trees.”

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Gene mutation in dogs offers clues for neural tube defects in humans


Conditions associated with human neural-tube defects are known to occur naturally in dogs.

Several conditions associated with human neural-tube defects are known to occur naturally in dogs.A gene related to neural tube defects in dogs has for the first time been identified by researchers at UC Davis and University of Iowa.

The researchers also found evidence that the gene may be an important risk factor for human neural tube defects, which affect more than 300,000 babies born each year around the world, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Neural tube defects, including anencephaly and spina bifida, are caused by the incomplete closure or development of the spine and skull.

The new findings appear this week in the journal PLOS Genetics.

“The cause of neural tube defects is poorly understood but has long been thought to be associated with genetic, nutritional and environmental factors,” said Noa Safra, lead author on the study and a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of professor Danika Bannasch in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

She noted that dogs provide an excellent biomedical model because they receive medical care comparable to what humans receive, share in a home environment and develop naturally occurring diseases that are similar to those found in humans. More specifically, several conditions associated with neural-tube defects are known to occur naturally in dogs. All DNA samples used in the study were taken from household pets, rather than laboratory animals, Safra said.

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Homemade dog food recipes can be risky business


Study finds few home-prepared recipes provide all essential nutrients in adequate amounts.

Puppy eating foodWhen it comes to canine cuisine, home cooking may not be all it’s cracked up to be, reports a team of researchers at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

In what is thought to be the largest ever nutritional evaluation of recipes for home-prepared dog foods, the researchers found that very few of 200 recipes analyzed provided all of the essential nutrients in amounts adequate for meeting established canine health standards.

Findings from the study appear in the June issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

“Some owners prefer to prepare their dogs’ food at home because they feel they have better control over the animals’ diet, want to provide a more natural food or simply don’t trust pet food companies,” said Jennifer Larsen, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at UC Davis and lead author on the study.

“The results of this study, however, indicate that most available recipes for healthy dogs, even those published in books by veterinarians, do not provide essential nutrients in the quantities required by the dog,” Larsen said. “It is extremely difficult for the average pet owner — or even veterinarians — to come up with balanced recipes to create appropriate meals that are safe for long-term use,” she said.

“Homemade food is a great option for many pets, but we recommend that owners avoid general recipes from books and the Internet and instead consult with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist,” Larsen said. “These specialists have advanced training in nutrition to help formulate customized and nutritionally appropriate recipes.”

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Preventing injuries to horse racing jockeys


Jockeys in quarter horse races had greater fall, injury rates than those in thoroughbred races.

Steps to prevent injuries to racehorses could also reduce the number of jockeys injured or killed in the United States, according to a study by researchers at the University of California, Davis, published June 11 in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine.

Postdoctoral scholar Peta Hitchens, associate professor Ashley Hill and professor Susan Stover from the J.D. Wheat Veterinary Orthopedic Research Laboratory at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine analyzed data on falls and injuries to jockeys that occurred at race meetings from January 2007 to December 2011.

The study showed that in California, jockeys riding in quarter horse races had greater fall and injury rates than those riding in thoroughbred races. A jockey riding in California can expect to have a fall every 318 rides in quarter horse races and every 502 rides in thoroughbred races, with more than half of falls resulting in a substantive injury to the jockey.

“Catastrophic injury or sudden death of the horse was reported as the most common cause of jockey falls in both thoroughbred and quarter horse races,” Hitchens said.

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Health professions education growing in new directions, UC report finds


Enrollment has increased significantly in medicine, nursing, pharmacy and public health.

Click image to download report

>>Download report

The University of California has issued a report that highlights some of the recent trends associated with the rapid growth in health professional schools and enrollment.

Enrollment in U.S. health professional schools has increased significantly in medicine, nursing, pharmacy and public health, according to the report, “A New Era of Growth: A Closer Look at Recent Trends in Health Professions Education.” For example, there has been unprecedented growth in total U.S. pharmacy student enrollment through expansion of existing programs and the establishment of new schools. Since 2005 alone, the number of accredited pharmacy schools has risen 48 percent (87 to 129).

The total enrollment and number of new U.S. medical schools also has increased. More striking, however, has been the rapid growth in the number of for-profit international medical schools located in the Caribbean and seeking to attract U.S. students. Growth has been more moderate in dentistry, optometry and veterinary medicine.

The report describes some of the changes in health professions education since 2007, when UC issued “A Compelling Case for Growth,” an in-depth review of health workforce needs as part of a systemwide planning effort that helped pave the way for enrollment growth at all five of UC’s longstanding medical schools, establishment of a new nursing school at UC Davis, and the recent accreditation and establishment of UC’s sixth school of medicine at UC Riverside.

The new report reviews the seven fields in which UC has health professional schools. The report also identifies trends and provides information by profession about the number of schools and enrollment in California and nationally. Information regarding current tuition levels by institution also is included.

“As the nation’s largest health sciences instructional program, UC has an important role to play in informing the public about the state of health professions education,” said Dr. Cathryn Nation, UC associate vice president for health sciences. “The ‘New Era of Growth’ report provides a valuable snapshot of trends that deserve our attention and further discussion.”

Trends identified in the report include:

  • Rapid growth in educational programs and total enrollment. Since 2007, the number of U.S. schools in the seven health professions surveyed has grown by 48 percent (865 to 1,283). As a result, enrollment has increased by 34 percent (252,484 to 339,107), with the majority of this growth taking place primarily in medicine, nursing, pharmacy and public health.
  • Development of new programs and business models. For-profit schools and programs have proliferated, both in the U.S. and the Caribbean, where 22 of the 61 medical schools admitted their first classes in the past decade. Non-research institutions have added new schools of pharmacy and dentistry. Accelerated and alternate-entry programs have grown, particularly in nursing. Professional doctorates have increased, as have programs that deliver education online, with growth in online public health programs.
  • Rising student costs and indebtedness. Between 2005 and 2010, UC medical schools experienced a nearly 50 percent increase, on average, in the four-year cost of attendance. Not surprisingly, student debt also is rising. Viewed over a longer period, the increase is even more dramatic. The total cost of attendance has increased for all UC professional degree programs, posing new challenges for students interested in pursuing careers in public service. For example, the average educational debt of veterinary medicine graduates (excluding undergraduate loans) at UC Davis nearly quadrupled from $29,770 in 1993 to $118,772 in 2011.

Recent growth at UC

Across the UC system, relatively modest, planned enrollment growth in medical student enrollment has occurred over the past decade. This has occurred through new UC Programs in Medical Education (PRIME) that focus on the needs of medically underserved communities. Through this special initiative, UC boosted total medical student enrollment by approximately 350 students across the UC system. However, most of this growth, and most that is occurring in nursing, has been unfunded by the state. Major multiyear budget cuts and a lack of state funding also contributed to a delay in the opening of UC Riverside’s new school of medicine, which will welcome its first class of 50 students in fall 2013.

Looking toward the future

Notwithstanding the growth in enrollment and establishment of new schools across the U.S., workforce shortages persist in many health professions, including medicine, public health and others — needs that will increase dramatically as provisions of health care reform take effect. The balance is currently shifting for some professions. In pharmacy, for instance, the profession has experienced such rapid growth in recent years that some estimates suggest a total national supply of pharmacists that may outpace future demand. Amid these many changes, it will be important to monitor the impact that the new schools and programs make, with particular attention to issues of quality, cost and student success, according to the report.

“As the higher education community plans for the future, the importance of maintaining educational quality, improving access and affordability for students, and improving access and health outcomes for patients are among the central goals that must remain in focus,” the report states.

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University of California Health includes five academic health centers with 10 hospitals and 18 health professional schools and programs on seven UC campuses — UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Riverside, UC San Diego and UC San Francisco. For more information, visit http://health.universityofcalifornia.edu.

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Purebred dogs not always at higher risk for genetic disorders


UC Davis study could help advance efforts to treat, prevent ailments in canines and humans.

The prevalence of genetic disorders among purebred and mixed-breed dogs depends on the specific condition, according to a UC Davis study.

If you think your mixed-breed pup is naturally hardier than the neighbor’s purebred, you may want to think again. A new study by researchers at the University of California, Davis, indicates that mixed breeds don’t necessarily have an advantage when it comes to inherited canine disorders.

Findings of the new study, available online in the June issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, are of particular interest because dogs are second only to humans in the number of identified genetic disorders that affect them.

The results provide a better understanding of the prevalence and source of such disorders, and could advance efforts to prevent and treat genetic ailments in both dogs and humans.

“Overall, the study showed that the prevalence of these genetic disorders among purebred and mixed-breed dogs depends on the specific condition,” said animal physiologist Anita Oberbauer, professor and chair of the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis and lead author of the study.

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Match Day at UC San Diego School of Medicine

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