FBR: Animal research is both humane and necessary | Annual reports on numbers of research animals don’t advance public interests | Gene therapy for blindness cured puppies before being tested in children
Misguided activists criticize biomedical research involving animals, but the truth behind how effective treatments and cures have been developed underscore the necessity of such work, writes FBR President Matthew R. Bailey. Animal research is strictly regulated and has led to life-saving vaccines for smallpox and polio, penicillin, safe blood transfusions, anesthetics, hip replacements and heart transplants, and it might lead to cures for Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and Ebola virus, to name only a few, Bailey writes.
The US and some other countries oversee and regulate basic and preclinical research that involves non-human animals to ensure that subjects are treated humanely, and the research has potential benefit to humans and other species, write Allyson Bennett and Alanna Brownell of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Psychology Department. Mandatory reporting is one component of government oversight, and Bennett and Brownell describe what annual reports on non-human primate testing include and explain why “a simple view of numbers of animals in research does little to serve public interests or public understanding of how science contributes to human and nonhuman animal health.”
Gene therapy pioneer Jean Bennett has spent the past three decades seeking a cure for blindness, and she and her husband, retinal surgeon Albert Maguire, succeeded in curing a hereditary form of blindness not only in children but also in puppies. The therapy they and their colleagues developed was approved in the US in 2017 and laid the groundwork for other gene therapies to treat many other genetic conditions.
Variants in DVL genes are the root of not only bulldogs’ short, kinked tails but also Robinow syndrome, which causes a short, wide face; short limbs; and spinal deformities in people, according to the results of a whole genome study on 100 pet dogs. Understanding how the DVL gene mutations work in dogs could improve the understanding of Robinow syndrome, says veterinarian Danika Bannasch, a professor in the Department of Population Health & Reproduction at the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
US scientists have shown positive results in humans from a drug that removes senescent cells, or zombie cells, that are not quite dead but are too damaged to perform normal functions. These cells contribute to body deterioration, and animal studies have shown that removing them can reverse aging, extend life and restore youth.
The Mengla virus, a filovirus related to the Ebola and Marburg viruses, was found in bats in China, according to a study in Nature Microbiology. Like Ebola and Marburg, Mengla enters cells using the same molecular receptor, a protein called NPC1.
Feral rhesus macaques in Florida’s Silver Springs State Park carry a strain of herpes virus that is deadly to humans, and that population is on track to double by 2022. The virus can be transmitted through scratches and bites, the monkeys have shown aggression in the past, and at some point the state will have no choice but to take action, says Steve Johnson, a professor at the University of Florida who has studied the troop.
Researchers recently identified feline gammaherpesviruses and morbilliviruses but are unsure of the viruses’ clinical relevance, according to an article in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. Researchers do not think either virus is zoonotic, and more research is needed to understand their clinical impact.
Sen. Cory Booker has introduced a bill that would limit testing on non-human primates. The Primate Protection and Research Modernization Act of 2018 “would make any new testing on primates a last resort when necessary for the prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of life-threatening human diseases,” Booker said.
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What is repugnant to every human being is to be reckoned always as a member of a class and not as an individual person.
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.