Stopping the spread of breast cancer after surgery, using mosquito spit to reinvigorate anti-clotting factors and is your parenting style predetermined?

Mosquito spit can bust blood clots in mice

(Science, 4/10/18, Vanessa Zainzinger)

Does your blood run thick? A bit of mosquito saliva might one day be just what the doctor ordered. That’s because scientists have found a new way to reinvigorate anti-clotting factors in mosquito spit in the lab. The modified blood thinner has so far only been tested in mice; if it ever works in humans, it could help prevent—and even treat—the blood clots that can lead to hemorrhaging or thrombosis. To revitalize tired mosquito spit, scientists added sulfate to the mix. Sulfate, which reacts with amino acids in the anophelins, strengthened the electrostatic forces between the proteins, making them able to bind to the enzyme in blood plasma that causes clotting. Researchers injected three anaesthetized mice with the modified or original molecules and measured how much they bled from a tail wound. Mice treated with the modified proteins had much thinner blood—their anophelins were 100 times as effective in binding to the enzyme as the unmodified protein, the scientists reported last month in ACS Central Science.

Cancer surgery can awaken tumor cells, but in mice a cheap pill stops metastasis

(STAT, 4/11/2018, Sharon Begley)

With AACR2018 almost upon us, here’s some exciting news about the spread of breast cancer after surgery. A new study involving mice and a very cheap and available pill could be key in stopping the spread of tumor cells in the months after a lumpectomy or mastectomy. Doctors and researchers have long tried to figure out why breast cancer patients are most likely to experience their cancer spreading in the first 18 months after surgery to remove a cancerous tumor or the breasts. A new study published in Science Translational Medicine suggests that the healing of the surgical site might be what triggers the spread of cancerous cells in the body after surgery. However the study suggests that giving plain, old NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like aspirin two hours before surgery and then twice a day for three days can keep the wound from awakening the quiescent cancer cells

Stay tuned to our Eureka Blog for continued coverage of 2018 AACR.

Neural Circuit of Parental Behavior Mapped in Mice

(The Scientist, 4/12/2018), Jim Daley)

Why do some people appear to be natural parents, while others smother their children, ignore them altogether or become outright abusive? Whether in humans or in mice, parenting entails a suite of behaviors, including grooming, feeding, and protecting young, but the neural systems that guide these activities remain poorly understood. Researchers have now made some headway, having deconstructed some of the neural circuitry responsible for this complex behavior, which the authors say is the first such map of its kind. Nature reports that the neurons that govern parenting in mice’s brains are organized into distinct pools originating in the hypothalamus, with each department communicating with any of 20 other regions in the brain and directing a specific parenting activity.