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Scientific awards and animal research


Two prestigious prizes have praised the work of scientists, in Switzerland and Canada, whose significant discoveries used animals in their studies.


A research team at EARA member, the University of Zurich, has been awarded the Swiss Pfizer 2023 Research Prize in the Paediatrics for its work with mice.


The scientists used gene editing to successfully repair the gene mutations that are responsible for the metabolic liver disorder phenylketonuria (PKU) – a disease causes potentially serious neurological symptoms in infants.


Other Pfizer prize winners also used animals in their research – including mice in an IOSI Bellinzona study of the impact of gut bacteria on the development of prostate cancer, as well as a University Hospital of Bern study to identify how the brain distinguishes different emotions during sleep.


Dr Mattia Aime, at Bern, said: “In order to develop a model, we need basic data from real animal experiments. We have to conduct our experiments in vivo, that is, in living animals, because sleep cannot be obtained in a brain slice or in vitro.”


Meanwhile, this year’s Wolf Prize in Medicine went to Professor Daniel Drucker, at the University of Toronto, Canada, for his pioneering research on intestinal hormones and their potential to treat conditions related to metabolism – the chemical reactions in the body that provide energy.


Prof. Drucker’s work included pre-clinical studies with animals, for example the effect of certain hormones on rats. This contributed to the development of new drugs for type 2 diabetes and short bowel syndrome, where the body cannot absorb enough nutrients from food.


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