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Tesla Revamps Model S Sedan Inside and Out, Adds 520-Mile Version

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Tesla has unveiled its biggest update to its Model S sedan since its unveiling in 2009 and launch in 2012. That’s normally an eternity for production cars, although a few have gone longer recently (see: Dodge Challenger and Charger, Nissan Frontier) and Tesla has been able to update the Model S with software tweaks more than other automakers.

This time, though, the refresh is significant outside and a full revamp inside. The exterior gets revised front and rear ends and a more pronounced stance, thanks to some subtle flaring in the door panels ahead of the rear wheels that give the illusion of a rake and more width. It’s a relatively safe update, but the car’s styling was always pretty timeless to begin with. Tesla says the new model has a .208 coefficient of drag (Cd), which the company claims makes the Model S the “lowest-drag car on Earth.”

Inside, the most dramatic change comes via the yoke-style steering wheel, which is either a nod to Formula-style race cars or a throwback to the Knight Industries Two Thousand, depending on your viewpoint. There are no longer stalks or shifters to either side of the wheel. The center stack now has a horizontally aligned 17-inch display with 2,200 by 1,300 resolution and a slight leftward tilt. Tri-zone air conditioning, ventilated front seats, and HEPA filtration deliver more luxurious cooling, and you get wireless and USB-C fast charging with enough juice to power a laptop. The audio system now has 22 speakers and 960 watts of power with active noise cancellation.

Second-row seating also gets a redesign, with additional legroom and headroom, a new LCD for rear passengers, and integrated wireless charging in the center armrest. The company says the car now has up to 10 teraflops of power and can support in-car gaming with today’s latest consoles, including wireless controller compatibility and the ability to play “from any seat.”

The new Model S starts at $ 79,990 for the dual-motor Long Range, which snaps off 0-60 runs in 3.1 seconds and yet runs for 412 miles on a full charge, with 670 peak horsepower (“peak” being a nod to the fact that depleted batteries affect power, unlike with fossil-fuel-powered vehicles). The $ 119,990 Plaid edition gets three motors and all-wheel-drive, and Tesla is claiming an insane under-2-second 0-60 time, 1,020 peak horsepower, a 200 mph top speed, and a 390-mile range. You’re not getting all of those at once. But you’re also not getting 25mpg in a Mustang GT running at 150 mph with the accelerator pedal pushed into the floorboards, even if the ‘stang can achieve that kind of fuel economy at normal highway speeds. Finally, an 1,100-hp Plaid+ option will cost $ 139,990 and have a reported range of 520 miles, which would be ludicrous if true–in pure Tesla fashion, of course.

The Long Range and Plaid arrive in February, according to Elon Musk; look for the Plaid+ before the end of the year. The Model X crossover SUV will also get the new interior and dashboard screen, plus new Long Range and Plaid versions, although its exterior remains unchanged.

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A team of maverick scientists is trying to build a bootleg version of a million-dollar drug


This is an excerpt from Second Opinion, a weekly roundup of eclectic and under-the-radar health and medical science news emailed to subscribers every Saturday morning. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do that by clicking here


Last weekend in Las Vegas, Gabriel Licina sat on the edge of a stage at the Biohack the Planet 2019 conference and held up a small package filled with vials of bacteria containing a pirated copy of a human gene.

He offered to give a free sample to anyone with access to a biology lab who was prepared to take his nascent gene therapy and run with it.

“This was developed in a shed in Mississippi, a warehouse in Florida, a bedroom in Indiana and a computer in Austria,” he told the audience of self-described biohackers. They’re science enthusiasts who experiment with biology outside the scientific mainstream, often working in home laboratories and sometimes testing their inventions on themselves.

“Step zero is to not inject yourself with this thing,” Licina told the audience.”Please, for the love of god, stop stabbing yourself.”

Licina doesn’t like the term “biohacker.” He has a degree in molecular biology and considers himself an independent biologist. “We’re not just random chumps here,” he said.


Gabriel Licina presented his version of the gene therapy Glybera at the Biohack the Planet 2019 conference in Las Vegas last weekend. Licina doesn’t like the term ‘biohacker.’ He considers himself to be an independent scientist who is interested in helping to develop an affordable version of the treatment. (Gabriel Licina)

He calls his creation “Slybera,” a play on the original name of “Glybera,” the world’s first approved gene therapy, which also became one of the world’s most expensive drugs.

The saga of Glybera was the focus of a special CBC News report that explored how a Canadian medical breakthrough that was 30 years in the making became the world’s most expensive drug — and then quickly disappeared.

Glybera was developed by Canadian scientists to treat a rare but devastating disease called lipoprotein lipase deficiency (LPLD). The disease affects about one or two out of every million people, but in the Saguenay region of Quebec, as many as one in 50 people are carrying the gene mutation.

Patients with the disease are unable to process dietary fat. Their blood turns white from the accumulation of fat molecules. And the disease causes devastating and potentially fatal attacks of pancreatitis.

Even though Glybera was shown to be effective in preventing the pancreatic attacks, the breakthrough treatment was abandoned after only two years on the market because patients could not afford the $ 1-million US price for a dose.

They are comfortable watching people suffer and die because of money.– Gabriel Licina, Scihouse Inc.

Glybera was sold only once, to a German woman, after her doctor fought to have a private insurance company pay for it. A few remaining doses were given away for one euro each. Then the drug was pulled from the market.

The Dutch company, uniQure, which still holds the Glybera patent, did not respond to CBC’s request for a comment on the biohacking activity.


These vials contain Glybera, the world’s first approved gene therapy. It was developed in Canada but only approved in Europe. The drug was pulled from the market after just two years and a single commercial sale. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

The idea that this treatment worked but is not available because of a corporate financial decision infuriates Licina.

“That’s super f–ked-up,” he said. “They are comfortable watching people suffer and die because of money.” 

Licina runs a non-profit community laboratory called Scihouse, in South Bend, Ind. The Slybera project started about two months ago when he got a call from a fellow scientist in Austria who suggested that they try to reverse engineer Glybera.

Using the original gene sequence that was published in the scientific literature, Licina and his colleagues spent $ 300 to have a professional genetic lab generate a copy of the DNA. And when Licina tested his genetic prototype in mammalian cells, it started working, producing the LPL protein that is deficient in patients who suffer from LPLD, he said.

None of this work on Slybera has been published in peer-reviewed literature. Instead, Licina is offering the genetic material to anyone with access to a biology lab who can take the discovery further. 

He estimates he’s spent about $ 7,000 on Slybera. The long-term dream, he says, would be to make a drug that patients can afford. 

“There’s absolutely no reason that Glybera should have cost that much,” he said. 

In my opinion, biohacking is the symptom and the consequence of a huge societal concern.– Dr. Daniel Gaudet, LPLD specialist, University of Montreal

Dr. John Kastelein is a Dutch scientist who was part of the team in British Columbia that developed Glybera. He told CBC News in an email that the gene therapy is “completely not suited for a biohack” because it is “too complex,” particularly with patents involved.

“Testing the end product [is] extremely difficult, so all in all, a hopeless initiative.”


Dr. John Kastelein was part of the Canadian scientific team that developed Glybera. He called any effort to biohack the therapy ‘a hopeless initiative.’ (Craig Chivers/CBC)

Dr. Daniel Gaudet is an LPLD specialist who conducted the original Glybera clinical trials at his clinic in Chicoutimi, Que., which is home to one of the largest populations of LPLD patients in the world. He understands the impulse to provide an affordable drug. He said biohacking is a response to an unsustainable situation.

“In my opinion, biohacking is the symptom and the consequence of a huge societal concern,” Gaudet said. “How can we assure, in the future, access to new, safe and effective treatments in the precision medicine era?”  

But he, too, believes gene therapy is too complex for a biohacking approach. 

“Bringing their solution to the patient is another world,” said Gaudet. “The process is extremely complex. It involves guarantees of safety and efficacy.”

As for the abandoned drug, Glybera?  

“Glybera was too expensive, no doubt,” Gaudet said. “For Glybera, it’s over.”

That means there are no available treatments for LPLD. But Gaudet says a next-generation gene therapy for LPLD is in development along with several other new treatments for the rare disorder.

And he is also working on strategies to ensure patients will have access to those new drugs at an affordable price once they are on the market.

“From the patient’s perspective, knowing that drugs exist that can be very important for saving your life but they are too expensive, it’s terrible.”

Meanwhile, back in his community laboratory in Indiana, Licina said hopes that someone else who has the ability to scale up his bootleg version of Glybera will bring it to patients through the appropriate regulatory channels.

“We’re not really interested in breaking any laws,” Licina said. 

“Nobody can make any money off of it, but you might do something good,” he told the biohackers at last weekend’s conference, as he offered them a chance to be part of his project.

He gave away about ten samples of Slybera and now he’s waiting to find out if anyone comes back with any data. 

“Hopefully, if we can get enough people who are willing to make good data, then we can find some people that are willing to do good with that data.”


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Sia Ditches Her Disguise to Perform Gospel Version of ‘Elastic Heart’ at Kanye West’s Sunday Service

Sia Ditches Her Disguise to Perform Gospel Version of ‘Elastic Heart’ at Kanye West’s Sunday Service | Entertainment Tonight

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Report: Smaller Nintendo Switch to Arrive Before More Powerful Version

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Ever since Nintendo built the Switch, we’ve been wondering when the company would upgrade the thing. From a technical perspective, the Switch is a bit underpowered. It still uses 20nm manufacturing technology and older ARM CPUs noted for high power consumption compared to more advanced products that debuted later. Now, a new report suggests the company is working on new devices — but it plans to bring the price down before it launches an advanced flavor.

That’s the word from Nikkei, which reports that a smaller version of the SwitchSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce based on portable play (but retaining the ability to hook to a TV) is in the works. This could make particular sense if Nintendo’s goal is to position a new Switch as a 3DS replacement.

A Tale of Two Switches?

Ever since Nintendo’s Game Boy, there’s been a default assumption that mobile and living room console gaming must be driven by two different machines. For most of computing history, there’s been little other choice — carrying a PS3 around in a large lithium-ion backpack wasn’t exactly an option.

Nintendo has always played the mobile game well, creating long-lived platforms that established themselves with their own unique games and capabilities. Even the 3DS, which stumbled badly out of the gate, recovered itself and went on to higher sales. The cheaper price points on these systems also made them popular with anyone who wanted to game but couldn’t afford the typically higher price of a living room console or the hardware it requires.

Nintendo Switch

With 3DS sales collapsing, Nintendo may be looking to replace the revenue stream it earned from the platform and continue to cater to gamers with a smaller budget. It could also be aiming to create a market for the Switch that would be more explicitly kid-friendly than the current version of the device.

We would expect Nintendo to target a significantly lower price for the new handheld in order to create meaningful market segmentation between them. A $ 150 – $ 200 unit would also be aligned as a 3DS successor in a way the $ 300 Switch currently isn’t.

As for rumors of an enhanced Switch, Nikkei’s report pushes back on the idea that we might see such a product by the end of the year. USGamer quotes Nikkei as stating:

Beyond the smaller, budget-focused model lies the development of the overhauled next-generation model intended to replace the one currently available. Nintendo is believed to be experimenting on a number of different things for the device, including usability, improved image rendering, and changes to the operating system, among other things. One development source contends, however, that it still remains unclear at this stage who at the company will end up taking the lead on conceptual development for the new console.

This makes it sound as if the device is still in the early design phases. We’ve written before about the benefits Nintendo could realize with a new product based on 14nm or 7nm rather than the comparatively ancient 20nm technology used inside the current Switch. With that said, it’s not clear which Nvidia product Nintendo would actually want to use.

Unlike the Tegra X1, which featured a mixture of Cortex-A57 and Cortex-A53 cores, the Tegra X2 offers two Denver CPU cores and four A57s. Nvidia’s Xavier platform is built entirely around Nvidia’s custom CPU cores and based on Volta. It’s unlikely that Nintendo would tap a part intended explicitly for the automotive and deep learning markets for a handheld console.

It’s always possible that Nintendo could either pay Nvidia to shrink Tegra X1 to 12nm or 7nm in order to take advantage of the power consumption and performance improvements. Alternately, the company might invest in its own custom SoC for a next-generation Switch. This would be a substantial change for Nintendo, which has typically only introduced marginal updates to its consoles over time, but the market is also more used to these kinds of mid-life upgrades than it used to be. With the Switch now having sold over 32 million units, Nintendo might think the platform is robust enough to invest in at that level.

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New Oculus Go Version Comes With VR Porn

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Pornography and technology have been sensuously intertwined for as long as humans have been knocking around the planet. Victorian sensibilities were scandalized by the truckloads of erotic art found preserved at Pompeii and Herculaneum. While frescoes and highly imaginative statuary might not seem like high technology by our standards, genuine artisanship and an understanding of perspective was required to create these works. In that sense, Porn-in-a-box’s new product — an Oculus Go headset preloaded with various VR porn clips — is heir to a technosexual traditional dating back millennia. You aren’t just “buying porn” when you pick up this headset for $ 300 ($ 100 more than the Oculus Go’s base price). You’re affirming an essential component of your humanity. You just happen to be affirming it with an “Oh-god-we-hope-it-isn’t-sticky” viewer strapped on your face.

To Porn-in-a-box’s credit, they do have a sense of humor about the whole thing.

Porn-in-a-box has partnered with BabeVR, BaDoinkVR, VR Cosplay, and 18VR to distribute their content via its service. The company has promised that new clips will periodically be made available, and has left the backdoor open to a subscription option at some point in the future.

The site offers a variety of subject-based categories, but some content loads are much bigger than others. I will attempt to provide some preview of what awaits you without actually awkwarding myself into an entirely new dimension. The BDSM category has one actual video in it and five videos thrown in to make it look like there’s actual content. Cosplay, on the other hand, is exceptionally endowed, with appearances from various video games, beloved movie characters, anime franchises, and even a handful of real-life individuals. Even the Nintendo game Arms gets the parody treatment. Special recognition to titles like “Assassin’s Breed,” though I’m disappointed “Spreadpool” isn’t used for the Deadpool parody. Also, God help us all, there’s now Bowsette VR porn.

With the exception of a modest lesbian category, all of the included content is heteronormative. Individuals looking for other types of content will have to look elsewhere, at least for now.

The porn industry has been focused on VR as a potential profit-driver for a few years now, and partnerships like this are an attempt to double down on the market. “We expect it to serve as a major gateway to our content,” said BadoinkVR head of production Xavi Clos in an interview with Variety last year. “The Oculus Go is the perfect porn device.”

There’s no word yet on whether Facebook thinks it’s okay to sell an Oculus Go preloaded with smut. As Variety notes, the Oculus terms of use preclude the promotion of “sexually explicit, abusive or obscene content,” but the company has previously said it does not wish to police what people watch or do in the privacy of their own homes.

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Nintendo May Be Planning a Smaller Version of the Switch

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Nintendo has a certified hit on its hands with the Switch, which is closing in on the Nintendo 64’s lifetime sales. But sales could always be better, of course. A report from Japan’s Nikkei claims Nintendo is looking to boost take-up with a new version of the Switch. However, it won’t be an improved console. Instead, Nintendo wants to make a Switch variant that’s smaller, more portable, and less expensive.

The current SwitchSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce is a hybrid system that works as a portable handheld and attached to a TV, and it retails for $ 300. Nikkei says the new Switch will be smaller, making it easier to take on the go, and Nintendo will remove some features in order to keep the price down.

Probably the easiest way to cut the price is to go all-in on handheld mode. The dock retails for $ 90, so Nintendo could sell the console by itself. Technically, it could design a simpler motherboard that doesn’t even support the higher performance docked mode for the Tegra X1 chip, making this version of the console handheld only.

Shaving off bezels to make a device smaller usually increases the price because you have to get creative arranging internal components. A smaller, less expensive Switch might just go with a scaled down display. The current 6.2-inch 720p LCD is sufficient, but plenty of people play games on phones with much smaller displays.

Nintendo Switch

Any significant change to the body would make current Joy-Cons incompatible. That might be part of the plan, though. The current Joy-Cons are expensive because they work wirelessly and include motion controls. Nintendo could just have fully integrated controllers on the small Switch to save money. That might be a problem for games that make extensive use of motion controls like Mario Party. Most games that have motion controls make them optional, though, so the majority of Nintendo’s catalog should work fine without removable Joy-Cons. 

So, why go to all this trouble? Nintendo reports a substantial drop in 3DS sales. A smaller Switch that doesn’t cost so much could replace the 3DS, especially for parents who want a highly portable console to keep kids occupied. The $ 300 Switch is overkill for that. Something that costs less and still lets you run the full catalog of Switch games could be appealing to a whole new subset of gamers.

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You Can Now Shop a Version of Meghan Markle's Wedding Reception Dress

Channel Meghan Markle on your wedding day! 

Back in June, Stella McCartney, who created the royal’s wedding reception dress, released a limited number of the “Made With Love” gown, inspired by the one the Duchess of Sussex wore. 

Now, you can try get your hands on the dress again as McCartney just launched her first official bridal line, which includes a white high-neck halter design similar to what Meghan donned. 

Meghan Markle wedding reception dress

Steve Parsons – WPA Pool/Getty Images

The 17-piece “Made With Love” range features effortlessly chic, minimalist designs perfect for modern brides, in line with the designer’s sleek aesthetic. In addition to dresses, the collection also includes a romantic lace jumpsuit and an ivory pantsuit — all made from sustainable viscose and updates on traditional couture fabrics. 

Stella McCartney halter wedding dress

Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney white suit

Courtesy of Stella McCartney

“It’s something that I feel very passionately about and is very close to my heart,” McCartney said of the line. “I think that in this day and age the wedding day is something very different to how it’s traditionally perceived, and I think that the house of Stella McCartney really represents something a little more effortless.”

Stella McCartney wedding dress

Courtesy of Stella McCartney

The covetable collection will be available at select Stella McCartney stores, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Net-a-Porter. 

For more on celebrity bridal style, see below:

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The Pirated Version of Final Fantasy XV is Much Faster Than the Legal Game

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Square Enix’s port of Final Fantasy XV has received strong reviews and overall acclaim from multiple publications. Eurogamer declared the PC version “unlocks the game’s full visual potential,” and other sites have given the game similar accolades. They’ve also taken notice of how much hardware firepower you need to really push the game at its highest visual settings. A new investigation suggests some of those requirements may be artificially higher than they should be, thanks to the game’s DRM implementation.

DSO Gaming put both versions of the game through equivalent tests and the results aren’t even particularly close. Not only does the pirated version launch much more quickly, saved games also load faster at 58 seconds for the pirated version versus 100 seconds for the legal copy. A video of the load time differences is embedded below:

While 720p tests favored the Steam version of the game, at 1080p the situation changed. In all cases, the pirated version of the game was faster, by 5 percent to a whopping 33 percent, depending on the scene. DSO Gaming also reported the frame rate on the pirated version has a tendency to drop after 10-15 minutes, while the frame rate doesn’t drop on the pirated version. The site logged a 60fps frame rate after 10 minutes on the Steam version and a 75fps frame rate on the pirated copy after the same amount of time. None of these issues have been fixed in the latest game patch. Finally, they found the Steam version stutters more, thanks to constant hard drive accesses that hit the game’s overall smoothness and presentation.

The implications of these findings are straightforward: The piracy protections baked into the game are hitting overall performance, causing a significant set of issues. Companies regularly deny it happens, but tests like this punch holes in such claims. The impact of Denuvo (which FFXV uses) and other DRM schemes appears to vary depending on the game. Other potential factors include which version of Denuvo is used, how it’s implemented, and the presence of other DRM methods. In Doom, removing Denuvo had a 4-6 percent impact on performance at 1080p. The FFXV impact, in contrast, is significantly larger.

You’ll need to click on the image and zoom in, but you can see how the Denuvo version of the game is at 60 FPS while the pirated version hits 73 FPS. Images by DSO Gaming.

Be advised, however, this trend can run both ways. ExtremeTech does not endorse or condone piracy, but as a matter of technical commentary, the version of a game you can find at sites like the Pirate Bay is often the launch-day flavor. In cases where later updates are available, they still may not correspond with the final title. This increases the likelihood that bugs or other issues will themselves lead to a negative overall experience.

At the same time, however, issues like this make it genuinely tough to recommend a middle road on DRM. Most gamers are willing to tolerate DRM if it’s acceptably permissive, and storefronts like Steam strike a balance between allowing gamers to share titles or install them to multiple machines and the need to protect the publisher’s IP. But it’s one thing to put a limit on account sharing or simultaneous installations. It’s another to ask players to accept significantly lower performance. Final Fantasy XV may be best experienced on PC, but Denuvo is doing the game no favors.

Our own rule of thumb for whether a game’s DRM implementation hits performance too hard would be this:  If DRM impact rises above 5-6 percent in any metric — frame times, frame rates, UI responsiveness, etc — then the impact is too high and the implementation needs to be fine-tuned or changed. A 5-6 percent performance loss is generally below the threshold humans can reliably detect; the difference between a steady 60fps and a steady 57fps isn’t very noticeable. Once you start hitting 10 percent, you’re in the range people will regularly detect.

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Type 2 diabetes in cats a near purr-fect match to human version

Any pet owner can tell you, pets become part of the family. And for all of the differences between you and, say, your dog or cat, it turns out, our pet cats have many similarities to us humans when it comes to Type 2 diabetes. 

This has possible implications not only for the health of domestic cats but also human medicine.

MollySegal_CatDiabetes_02.jpg

University of Calgary researcher Amy Warren studies cat tissue samples under a microscope. Credit: Molly Segal ( Molly Segal)

Amy Warren is a veterinary pathologist at the University of Calgary. As part of a larger research project in partnership with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon, she is trying to identify cats with Type 2 diabetes to determine what is causing the disease on the molecular level. Her research uses tissues from dead cats that were donated to veterinary research posthumously.

Warren says in cats, as in humans, Type 2 diabetes is associated with age and weight gain. “Clinically they present the same way.”

People and cats with Type 2 diabetes have a decreased number of cells producing insulin compared to those without diabetes. Without insulin, blood sugar isn’t regulated.

Cat

In both cats and humans, Type 2 diabetes is associated with age and weight gain. (John Robertson/CBC)

Human treatment for cats?

Warren says the other similarity has to do with the pancreas. The researchers need to take a closer look to learn how similar. 

“They both produce a similar protein that predisposes them to producing the amyloid. But just because it looks the same under the microscope, there might be a really different way at the molecular level that it’s producing this same picture. And so we make a lot of assumptions just because it looks the same, then therefore it’s going to be the same,” Warren says.

Drugs work on a molecular level. So, if Type 2 diabetes in cats is the same as humans on a molecular level, that means different types of treatments we use for people could also be used for cats. 

Chantal McMillan is another University of Calgary veterinarian involved in the research. She specializes in small animal medicine. McMillan says if you have enough similarities between two species, it’s called a “translational model.” And this research could give light on whether or not cats with Type 2 diabetes can serve as a model for people. 

“They’ve been proposed that they could serve as a good model for human Type 2 diabetes, so potentially enhancing the research that’s undergone in human diabetes,” McMillan says.

cat-injection-cp-620

If Type 2 Diabetes in cats is the same as humans on a molecular level, that means different types of treatments we use for people could also be used for cats. (Bullit Marquez/Associated Press)

Benefits in medical research 

​Medical research often relies on genetically modified animals like rodents. But, McMillan says there are benefits in medical research to finding naturally occurring animal models. “If we can figure out what’s going on in cats and the molecular mechanisms and we find something that potentially is useful in our feline patients maybe that could be extrapolated to humans. Certainly humans are decades ahead of us in terms of therapeutic options for Type 2 diabetes.”

Warren says comparisons like these between different species are part of a growing trend in medical research: “So you’re sort of making that extrapolation from animals into people, but also from people, which is what we’re doing, back into animals and so helping human medicine, but also at the same time helping veterinary medicine as well.”

Need for more cat donors

The researchers are still in need of more cat donors. Just like we, as people, can donate our bodies to medical research when we die, pet owners can give their cats to veterinary research when they pass away. 

​Dogs have also contributed a lot to diabetes research. In the early 1920s, a group of researchers at the University of Toronto discovered insulin, and won a Nobel Prize, thanks to dogs. 
 

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