Strict, comprehensive standards for ethical research and Department of Transportation oversight provide a safe framework for transporting and working with animals involved in lifesaving biomedical research, writes Kerri Toloczko of the Institute for Liberty. Animal rights groups have pushed almost all major air carriers into rejecting transport of animals for research purposes and are waging campaigns against the few carriers left that do transport for the research community. “It’s time for Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to enforce laws that require commercial planes to carry research animals and for airline carriers to make the ethical and humane choice,” Toloczko writes.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie stood up for “good, ethical science that benefits both veterans and animals” when he decided that the VA would continue to support canine research designed to improve the lives of troops wounded in combat, writes Paula Clifford, executive director of Americans for Medical Progress. Numerous important medical breakthroughs have relied on a small number of dogs, and activists have misled Americans on the importance of canine research, Clifford writes.
Researchers have tested a new vaccine strategy to stabilize a molecule they say could help foster immunity to HIV, and the approach is being tested in monkeys after showing promise in mice and rabbits. “We see this new approach as a general solution to the long-standing problems of HIV vaccine design,” principal investigator Jiang Zhu said.
Bioengineered spinal discs implanted in goats functioned well for up to 20 weeks, potentially offering an alternative to conventional surgery for people with degenerative disc diseases. For the study, published in Science Translational Medicine, scientists extracted the goats’ stem cells, inserted them into a disc-shaped matrix, and implanted the new tissue into the goats’ necks, where they maintained their shape and matched or surpassed natural disc function.
A vaccine tested in mice spurred production of antibodies that inhibited the accumulation of amyloid and tau proteins in the brain, researchers reported in Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy, and research also has shown promise in rabbits and monkeys. Delaying the onset of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease “would be enormous for the patients and their families” and could cut the number of dementia cases in half, says neurology professor Doris Lambracht-Washington.
Low-dose aspirin appeared to protect mouse models of multiple sclerosis from degeneration of the myelin sheath surrounding nerves and reduced symptoms, according to a study published in Science Signaling. The results “suggest that low-dose aspirin may be repurposed for therapeutic intervention in MS,” the researchers wrote.
Veterinary orthopedic surgeon Amy Kapatkin used bone morphogenetic protein to heal a broken right ulna and radius in a 2-year-old Yorkshire terrier that was facing amputation. Dr. Kapatkin removed dead bone and failed implants, inserted a compression-resistant matrix saturated with BMP into the bone defect and stabilized the healthy bone on either side of the defect, and the dog is now able to run on the healed leg.
The V Foundation for Cancer Research issued grants to five veterinary medicine schools, including the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, for canine comparative oncology studies. Grants also went to researchers at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Veterinary Medicine, the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Flint Animal Cancer Center.
Researchers who work with non-human primates don sterile gear to protect not only themselves but also the animals, yet tourists take few precautions when they visit wildlife sanctuaries, says anthropologist Michael Muehlenbein. Because humans and non-human primates have many genes in common, diseases pass readily from humans to non-human primates, Muehlenbein says, and the consequences can be deadly for the animals.
The National Association for Biomedical Research recently filed an official complaint with the Department of Transportation requesting an investigation into reports of airlines refusing to transport of animals for research purposes while knowingly transporting the same species for other purposes. This practice is discriminatory and puts human health at risk, but comments opposing NABR’s complaint outnumber those in support of it. Please support this effort and biomedical research by commenting before Dec. 6!
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Since it is necessary to have enemies, let us endeavor to have those who do us honor.
Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve,
writer and literary critic
The Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) is the nation’s oldest and largest non-profit dedicated to improving human and animal health by promoting public understanding and support for biomedical research. Our mission is to educate people about the essential role animal research plays in the quest for medical advancements, treatments and cures for both people and animals.