Browsing "Animal Research"

Hope for Humans and Dogs with Genetic Disorders

X-linked myotubular myopathy is a particularly nasty genetic disorder. It affects boys who seem healthy at birth, only to have their muscles waste away until they can’t support their bodies anymore — or even breathe — over the course of a few years. Humans are not the only animal with the mutation that causes this disorder. Puppies (also male) suffer and ultimately die from it, as well. But from tragedy, scientists are now bringing us hope: if these affected puppies can teach us how to treat x-linked myotubular myopathy, both species will ultimately benefit:

Gene Therapy Saves Puppies From A Fatal Disease—And Maybe Us Next

The dogs who were given a treatment that repaired their defective myotubularin gene avoided the crippling muscle degeneration that killed the placebo-treated dogs by week 17. And by the ninth month of study, the saved puppies’ muscle and neurological function continued to match readings from healthy dogs, particularly for those that got the highest doses.

The findings, building on an earlier proof-of-concept study of dogs and mice by the researchers, signal that a scaled-up treatment could save the lives of boys with the same sort of genetic flaw.

X-Linked Myotubular Myopathy Affects both young

X-linked myotubular myopathy affects young boys, both human and canine. We would love to see a world where neither have to suffer from it.

Animal science working at the genetic level to improve the welfare and lives of multiple species — this is just some fantastic work!

PS. if you were at our annual conference last November and this sounds familiar, you aren’t imagining it — there was an inspiring (and tear-jerking) presentation about the animal-based research that is bringing us closer to a cure for x-linked myotubular myopathy. This would be a good time to remind you to plan for the 2017 NAIA conference, Oct 2-4 in Washington DC!

 

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Oct 25, 2016 - Animal Research    No Comments

Congratulations to NAIA Board Member Dr. Robert Speth!

Big congratulations are in order for Nova Southeastern University (NSU) professor of pharmacology, bioethicist, and NAIA Board Member Dr. Robert Speth, who just received NSU’s Sixth Annual Provost’s Research and Scholarship Award!

This award is to honor NSU faculty members who have demonstrated “significant achievement in support of NSU’s mission to foster scholarship, intellectual inquiry, and academic excellence.” Provost Ralph V. Rogers Jr., PhD, had these glowing words for Dr. Speth:

Dr. Speth has distinguished himself as a researcher, an educator, and a staunch supporter of the NSU community. He has truly demonstrated what this award is meant to recognize: innovative and sustained activities in support of NSU’s mission to foster intellectual inquiry, academic excellence, research and a dynamic learning environment.

Dr. Robert Speth Receiving Award

Photo caption (left to right): Ralph V. Rogers Jr., Ph.D., NSU executive vice president and provost; Robert C. Speth, Ph.D.; Lisa Deziel, Pharm.D., Ph.D., dean, NSU College of Pharmacy; Stanley Cohen, Ed.D., nominator; George L. Hanbury II, Ph.D., NSU president & CEO.

Dr. Speth’s is known for his work studying brain receptors for neurotransmitters and hormones. He focuses on the hormone angiotensin, which causes hypertension. His research has shown that receptors for angiotensin in the brain are strategically located to stimulate nerves that act upon the cardiovascular system to raise blood pressure. He is also widely recognized as a resource on the ethics of animal research. We are proud to have Dr. Speth as a board member, and thrilled to see him receive this prestigious reward!

 

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No “Sanctuary” for Chimpanzees: When Ideology Trumps Animal Welfare

If you follow animal issues, you probably know that invasive biomedical research with chimpanzees is no longer carried out unless:

  1. it is necessary to advance public health; and
  2. there are no other means for doing so.

 

You may also be aware of the fact that their has been a concerted effort, spearheaded by HSUS, to remove chimpanzees from research settings and place them in sanctuaries.

But did you know that 69% of Chimpanzees taken from the MD Anderson Keeling Center (MDAKC) to live in a sanctuary have died — most within a few months?

Sadly, the fact of the matter is a “good intention” is not enough, and no US sanctuary is staffed or equipped to care for chimpanzees like MDAKC.

This blog from Speaking of Research touches on this issue eloquently, using Dr. Cindy Buckmaster, NAIA Board Member and Chair of Americans for Medical Progress as a source.

In fact, many of our chimps would fare better if they were allowed to retire in place. And several of these precious creatures have already suffered and died because the NIH would not allow them to do so. The MD Anderson Keeling Center (MDAKC) in Texas has been home to the healthiest, happiest chimpanzees in America for decades. Their living quarters are comparable to, or better, than any US sanctuary, and none of these sanctuaries can compete with the level of care provided to chimpanzees at MDAKC. The MDAKC staff includes ten full-time veterinarians with a combined total of 92 years of experience caring for chimpanzees; 6 are specially boarded primate veterinarians, 3 are specially boarded veterinary pathologists, and 3 are specially certified to provide laser and acupuncture therapies to supplement traditional treatment regimens. There are also 22 specially trained, full-time technicians devoted to the chimps’ husbandry, health and behavioral needs, including 3 night technicians. MDAKC also has a full-service clinical pathology laboratory on site that allows for the immediate diagnosis and treatment of animals with health concerns. No US sanctuary is staffed or equipped to care for chimpanzees like MDAKC, not one! In fact, the sanctuary that the NIH is forcing us to send our chimpanzees to currently is not even equipped to carry out its own diagnostic lab work. This is concerning, given the advanced age of many research chimpanzees. Honestly, it would make more sense for Dr. Collins to retire the nation’s research chimps to MDAKC!

While we may disagree on the details, we all want to see the animals in our care safe, healthy, and happy. But in our view this is a tragic and clear case of ideology trumping animal welfare, and a story that needs to be told.

 

Maynard, who had a fatal heart attack in the sanctuary the day after he was introduced to a new group of chimpanzees

Maynard, removed from his family at MDAKC, had a fatal heart attack in the sanctuary the day after he was introduced to a new group of chimpanzees.
Photo credit: MDAKC

Dr. Buckmaster’s entire article can be found here, with a subscription.

Oct 1, 2015 - Animal Research    1 Comment

Making a Meal(worm) out of Plastic

This is pretty amazing! Researchers from Stanford raised mealworms on a diet of styrofoam. And the results?

Each worm ate about a few dozen milligrams every day, converting about half to carbon dioxide and leaving half behind as non-toxic waste.

Assuming there are no ill effects down the road for these worms or predators that eat them, the implication of this styrofoam diet are huge!

According to the EPA, Americans toss out 25,000,000,000 styrofoam cups each year, which do not break down fast or easily — and that’s just cups! But if mealworms are willing and able to lend a helping mouth (or, more accurately, the helpful bacteria in their guts that breaks down plastic), this could be a powerful solution for the world’s plastic waste.

Hungry Mealworms Photo: Yu Yang, Stanford

Hungry Mealworms
Photo: Yu Yang, Stanford

 

Who says worms are slimy and gross?

Sep 23, 2015 - Animal Research    No Comments

Antiviral Drug Prevents HIV Infections… And Would Not Be Available Without Animal-Based Research

With the news cycle moving as fast and furious as it does nowadays, it could be easy to miss these important findings: in two recent studies, the antiviral drug, Truvada, was 100% effective in preventing HIV infection in several hundred high risk individuals, and it reduced infection by 86% in others.

Step back for a moment to take that in. Do you remember where we were in HIV treatment 20, even 30 years ago? This promises to be an extraordinary step forward.

Now, of course this pill is not perfect (“It’s no magic bullet,” as you may have read in the Newsweek piece), and there are numerous known side effects, but overall, these are extremely promising findings that bring us a step closer to controlling, and eventually eradicating this terrible disease worldwide.

Now, why are we talking about HIV if we are all about animal issues at NAIA? Well, that is simple enough: this medication, and many like it would not be available without necessary animal-based research. This is a vital, but often glossed-over fact when new breakthroughs are achieved. So while we celebrate advances in medicine that improve the health of humans and animals alike, it is important to acknowledge the positive role that animal-based research continues to play in all of our lives.