FDA launches pilot program to help reduce and replace animal testing in drug development

This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched Innovative Science and Technology Approaches for New Drugs (ISTAND), a pilot program that will help reduce and replace animal testing as part of drug development. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has worked toward this goal for several years by meeting with the FDA and Congress and providing expert input, hosting Congressional briefings, and leading drug development stakeholders in advocating for a pathway for the approval of nonanimal, human-biology based drug testing methods.

The FDA launched ISTAND to expand its ability to qualify drug development tools that are outside the scope of the FDA’s existing Drug Development Tools Qualification Program (DDT). The DDT program excluded the vast majority of nonanimal in vitro and computational approaches. Before ISTAND, if a drug developer wanted to use a human biology-based approach, it would only be reviewed and accepted on a case-by-case basis. The

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Animal Planet, HGTV enter streaming arena as Discovery launches new service

Discovery Communications, the cable TV home of Shark Week, the Oprah Winfrey Network and reality hits “90 Day Fiancé,” “Property Brothers” and “Dr. Pimple Popper,” is launching a direct-to-consumer streaming service that will make its programming available to consumers without a pay TV subscription.



Beau Henderson, Jonathan Silver Scott standing in a kitchen: A couple see their new kitchen for the first time as Drew and Jonathan Scott give them a tour on HGTV's "Property Brothers." (Caitlin Cronenberg)


© (Caitlin Cronenberg)
A couple see their new kitchen for the first time as Drew and Jonathan Scott give them a tour on HGTV’s “Property Brothers.” (Caitlin Cronenberg)

The service, called Discovery+, will launch Jan. 4, the New York-based company announced Wednesday. It will carry programming from Discovery’s wide range of channels, which include TLC, OWN, Investigative Discovery, Animal Planet and Food Network.

Through a partnership deal with A&E Television Networks, Discovery+ also will offer nonfiction shows from Lifetime, History Channel and A&E.

Discovery is entering a crowded field as media conglomerates such as the Walt Disney Co., WarnerMedia and Comcast have made their programs and

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Elephants found to have the highest volume of daily water loss ever recorded in a land animal

African elephant
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A team of researchers from Duke University, the University of the Witwatersrand and Hunter College has found that elephants have the highest volume of daily water loss ever recorded in a land animal. In their paper published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the group describes experiments they conducted with captive elephants to measure how much water they lose.


Many animals, such as humans, keep cool in hot weather by perspiring—as sweat evaporates, the skin is cooled down. Other animals, such as dogs, keep cool by panting—and still others, such as elephants, have large organs that work as a cooling system—their ears keep them cool when it is hot. Elephants have sweat glands, as well, but they are small and located in their feet, near their cuticles. Elephants are also known to drink an enormous amount of water—hundreds of liters every day. Such huge

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Scientists discover ‘beautiful and unique’ gelatinous sea animal

Scientists like to get their hands on things when possible, especially when describing new animal species. A team of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers, however, embraced a hands-off approach when it came to a surprising underwater find: a new species of comb jelly.



a fish swimming under water: Researchers described the newly discovered Duobrachium sparksae based on high-definition video footage alone. NOAA


© Provided by CNET
Researchers described the newly discovered Duobrachium sparksae based on high-definition video footage alone. NOAA



a fish swimming under water: Researchers were able to describe the newly discovered Duobrachium sparksae based on high-definition video footage alone.


© NOAA

Researchers were able to describe the newly discovered Duobrachium sparksae based on high-definition video footage alone.


“It’s unique because we were able to describe a new species based entirely on high-definition video,” said NOAA Fisheries scientist Allen Collins in a statement Nov. 20.

The NOAA team named the translucent animal Duobrachium sparksae. It’s a ctenophore, popularly known as a comb jelly. Not to be confused with jellyfish, comb jellies are ethereal, gelatinous and carnivorous denizens of the deep. 

The new species dwells off the coast of

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Mystery Gelatinous Party Balloon-Like Animal Discovered In Puerto Rico [VIDEO]

KEY POINTS

  • The new jelly comb species shares a few similarities with other ctenophores
  • The discovery was part of NOAA’s underwater exploration of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
  • There have been about 100 to 150  species of comb jellies identified and validated in the past few years

In 2015, scientists encountered a peculiar creature that was shaped like a party balloon and had a gelatinous texture. After five years, they finally have a name for that mystery animal found off a Puerto Rican shore.

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) named the ocean creature Duobrachium sparksae. They identified it as a new species of ctenophore or what is more popularly known as the comb jellies. 

Deep Discoverer, a remotely operated underwater vehicle, was instrumental in finally identifying and naming the new ctenophore species. Details of the whole process were published in the journal Plankton

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NOAA scientists discover a new species of a gelatinous animal in the waters near Puerto Rico

Scientists have discovered a new species of ctenophore, or comb jelly, near Puerto Rico.



a fish swimming under water: This type of comb jelly, or ctenophore, was first seen during a 2015 underwater expedition by a NOAA research team.


© NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research
This type of comb jelly, or ctenophore, was first seen during a 2015 underwater expedition by a NOAA research team.

The newly named Duobrachium sparksae was discovered two and a half miles below sea level by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries research team. It was found during an underwater expedition using a remotely operated vehicle in 2015 and filmed by a high-definition camera.

NOAA Fisheries scientists Mike Ford and Allen Collins spotted the ctenophore and recognized it as a new species. This is the first time NOAA scientists have identified a new species using only high-definition video, according to NOAA.

“The cameras on the Deep Discoverer robot are able to get high-resolution images and measure structures less than a millimeter. We don’t have the same

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Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp update brings AR features for newer devices

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, the smartphone entry in the long-running Nintendo franchise, has been updated with a pair of new augmented reality features. The first, AR Camera, lets you place characters and furniture from the game in the real world and photograph them. Meanwhile, the AR Cabin feature lets players decorate a virtual cabin, fill it with characters, and then view it in augmented reality from their smartphone.

Along with the new AR modes, Nintendo says the update means more areas of each campsite can have furniture and items placed within them.

AR Cabin lets you assemble a virtual room and then explore it in augmented reality.
Image: Nintendo

Unfortunately, the new features have increased the game’s system requirements, and previous versions of the game are now unusable after the update. A support post notes that iPhone users now require iOS version 11 at a minimum (or ideally iOS

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Study: Extreme losses in a few animal populations explain global vertebrate declines

Nov. 18 (UPI) — The planet’s vertebrates aren’t doing as poorly as previous surveys have suggested.

According to a new study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, declines in global vertebrate numbers are largely driven by extreme losses among a handful of animal populations.

When biologists separated out the populations responsible for the most precipitous declines, they revealed a more positive portrait of global biodiversity.

Using historical wildlife monitoring data, researchers previously estimated that vertebrate populations have declined by roughly 50 percent over the last 50 years.

“However, given previous mathematical methods used to model vertebrate populations, this estimate could arise from two very different scenarios: widespread systematic declines, or a few extreme declines,” senior study author Brian Leung, an ecologist at McGill University in Canada, said in a news release.

Because populations are composed of individuals of the same species living in a specific location, severe population declines precede

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Nine of the Weirdest Penises in the Animal Kingdom | Science

SMITHSONIANMAG.COM |
Nov. 17, 2020, 9 a.m.

Birds have them, bees have them, even regular old fleas have them, but in the animal kingdom, no penis is exactly like the next. Across vastly different species and ecosystems, unique environmental pressures have allowed creatures of many species to evolve an array of shapes and sizes—from the electric blue penis of the leopard slug to the blue whale’s ten-foot phallus.

The more scientists learn about penises, the more they realize how varied sex organs are. Just ask Emily Willingham, a biologist and journalist who’s been studying penises for over a decade. Her book, Phallacy: Life Lessons from the Animal Penis, hit shelves in September. Phallacy plunges readers into the wild and wacky world of animal genitalia while exploring the social and cultural significance of penises as symbols of power and identity.

Penises have been a longstanding subject of scientific fascination, and

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Half-a-billion year old microfossils may yield new knowledge of animal origins — ScienceDaily

When and how did the first animals appear? Science has long sought an answer. Uppsala University researchers and colleagues in Denmark have now jointly found, in Greenland, embryo-like microfossils up to 570 million years old, revealing that organisms of this type were dispersed throughout the world. The study is published in Communications Biology.

“We believe this discovery of ours improves our scope for understanding the period in Earth’s history when animals first appeared — and is likely to prompt many interesting discussions,” says Sebastian Willman, the study’s first author and a palaeontologist at Uppsala University.

The existence of animals on Earth around 540 million years ago (mya) is well substantiated. This was when the event in evolution known as the “Cambrian Explosion” took place. Fossils from a huge number of creatures from the Cambrian period, many of them shelled, exist. The first animals must have evolved earlier still; but

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