The Department of Transportation received more than 20,000 comments on airlines’ refusal to transport lab animals — a policy the National Association for Biomedical Research and other scientific advocacy organizations say undermines lifesaving research. The airlines say they have been targeted by animal rights organizations that threaten passenger safety and have disrupted service, but labs are “quite frankly running out of options,” NABR President Matthew R. Bailey said.
The Department of Transportation is considering public comments on a complaint filed against United Airlines, British Airways, China Southern Airlines and Qatar Airways in which the National Association for Biomedical Research says the airlines have illegally discriminated “against customers who seek to transport animals for purposes of live animal research undertaken at medical and other research facilities.” If the DOT does not act, “[t]reatments and cures will be delayed, and ultimately society, as well as the animals we love, will pay the cost,” said NABR President Matthew R. Bailey.
Two baboons with transplanted hearts from genetically engineered pigs survived for 90 days at Bruno Reichart’s lab at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich before being euthanized, and two other baboons with pig hearts survived 180 days before euthanasia, as required under the study protocol. Non-human primates in prior studies died soon after transplantation, but Reichart soaked the porcine hearts in a nutrient-rich solution and kept them warmer than in previous attempts, which may have prevented ischemia.
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and scientists at Imperial College London are developing a vaccine platform based on synthetic self-amplifying RNA that could be customized quickly by inserting genomic material to prevent specific infections, such as influenza, Ebola, Marburg and rabies viruses. The researchers plan to begin safety trials in animals early next year and move to human trials within two years.
Doris Tsao, one of this year’s MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant recipients, worked with macaques to map how the brain processes minute differences in shapes, features, tones and textures to recognize a face. Now she is working to crack the code of how the brain processes the world and is studying not only how the brain processes sensory information but also how the brain links that information to high-level knowledge.
After zebrafish were exposed to the antidepressant fluoxetine, known by the brand name Prozac, their offspring experienced lower cortisol levels through three generations, according to findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “What we think is happening is that by generation three, the fish are already adapting to new low cortisol levels,” said study co-author Marilyn Vera-Chang.
Scientists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Auburn University, the University of Georgia and Mississippi State University are enrolling dogs with gliomas in a clinical study of a modified herpes virus to kill tumor cells that remain after excision. “We’re not only helping man’s best friend, but helping man with this treatment,” said veterinarian Amy Yanke, an assistant professor of neurology and neurosurgery at Auburn.
Voters in Mount Horeb, Wis., rejected a proposed resolution that would have expanded an ordinance and blocked the breeding of dogs for biomedical research. The measure may have been the first of its kind, but it is not likely to be the last, and “[t]he scientific community and research advocates can and should play an important role in providing facts and engaging in public dialog to support citizens’ informed decisions,” write Allyson Bennett and Sangy Panicker.
Research programs that involve animals need to inform the public and maintain a level of transparency about what they do, but they also need to respond judiciously to inquiries, particularly from activist organizations, writes John Sancenito, president of security consulting firm Information Network Associates, who offers guidelines for balancing transparency and security.
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All rules for study are summed up in this one: Learn only in order to create.
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.