Weekly News Roundup 3/9 – 3/16

Study uncovers gene tied to respiratory condition

Researchers at the University of Helsinki have uncovered a gene associated with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in Dalmatians. Typified by an exaggerated inflammatory response within the lungs, researchers say ARDS is “the leading cause of death in critical care medicine.” The study found that in Dalmatians, ARDS is caused by a genetic lung tissue disorder. In the future, the study’s results could help diagnose the syndrome and eradicate it from the breed. The study was published in PLOS Genetics in February 2017.

Skydiving dogs defend against poachers

A team of dogs, trained by the Paramount Group’s Anti-Poaching and K9 Academy, parachute into wildlife preserves across Africa to stop poaching. The dogs are trained to sniff out the poachers and pin them to the ground until help arrives. Nearly 100 sky-diving dogs have been placed in game reserves across Africa, and in one area caught more than 100 poachers in 18 months.

Research aims to determine whether animal testing is useful

A team at John Hopkins has started research that aims to determine how useful animal testing is at predicting whether drugs are toxic to humans. The researchers plan to compare standard animal tests with other scientific methods that use human cells or computer models. This research fits into the larger debate over whether animals should be used for drug testing and could provide information on whether alternative methods could be relied on.

Dog serves as nanny for tiger cubs

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has posted an adorable video to YouTube of Australian shepherd Blakely and three tiger cubs. After their birth, the cubs’ mother ignored them, so the zoo staff has stepped in to care for them. Blakely is serving as a nanny to the cubs, providing “snuggling, comfort, and a body to climb.” In the past, Blakely has helped rear baby cheetahs, an ocelot, wallabies, and skunks.

NEWStat Interesting/unusual