The vaccines for COVID-19, Ebola virus and other life-threatening diseases would not have been possible without animal research, and a global shortage of monkeys and other animals for research threatens future progress, writes FBR President Matthew R. Bailey. Antibody therapies for both COVID-19 and Ebola were also developed in animals, but Eli Lilly and Co.'s treatment almost never got out of the lab due to a shortage of research monkeys, and because there is no viable replacement for animals in research, the shortage must be addressed quickly, Bailey writes.
The USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections in several western lowland gorillas at the San Diego Zoo that had exhibited signs of mild illness, and the gorillas' troop is quarantined and under veterinary supervision. Zoo officials suspect that an asymptomatic employee transmitted the virus to the gorillas, despite following preventive measures.
Rhesus macaques vaccinated with CureVac's COVID-19 vaccine candidate did not develop serious infections when subsequently exposed to SARS-CoV-2, according to the company. The virus was undetectable in the lungs of vaccinated monkeys, and viral loads in the nose and throat were reduced.
A CRISPR-based gene therapy reversed progeria in mice and significantly extended their lifespan, according to a study in Nature described by gene therapy researchers as "incredible" and "beyond anyone's wildest expectations." Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome is a rare pediatric disease that causes premature aging and is usually fatal by age 14, and researchers will ensure the therapy is safe in monkeys before giving it to children.
Scientists at Baylor College of Medicine and the universities of Washington and Missouri have identified and catalogued more than 85 million genetic variants in rhesus macaque populations used in biomedical research, and the new reference genome will support fundamental research on molecular genetics, cell biology and physiology. Identifying naturally occurring genetic mutations will improve understanding of genetic variation and susceptibility to disease in humans and will help primatologists and evolutionary biologists, says Jeffrey Rogers, co-author of the study in Science.
Genetically modified botulinum toxin carrying alpaca-derived nanobodies followed active botulinum into nerves and disabled it in two separate animal studies, and the technique could be used to treat botulism. The therapy reversed nerve paralysis in mice given a lethal dose of botulinum toxin, and similar outcomes were obtained in guinea pigs and macaque monkeys.
EvviVax, a unit of Italy-based Takis Biotech, and New York-based Applied DNA Sciences are collaborating on a feline vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 that is based on Takis' COVID-19 vaccine. Though SARS-CoV-2 infections have been confirmed in only 54 domestic cats in the US, Takis CEO Luigi Aurisicchio says vaccinating cats will prevent virus mutations that could be dangerous to people and pets.
A recent study grossly overestimates the number of rodents used each year in biomedical research and incorrectly asserts that the rodents that are used are not treated humanely, say Allyson Bennett, senior editor at Speaking of Research, and Nadia Rosenthal, scientific director of the Jackson Laboratory. Some observers have called for additional tracking and other oversight of rodents in biomedical research, but FBR President Matthew R. Bailey rejected that notion. "Now is not the time to be seeking additional restrictions on biomedical research or endeavoring to make it more difficult and more expensive," Bailey said.
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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.