Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, who died early today, supported the use of animals in medical research. "The fuss over the use of animals in medical research is ridiculous," Hawking said in 1998. "Why is it worse to use animal experiments to save lives than to eat them, which the majority of the population are happy to do?"
Clinical trials are scheduled to begin in Japan next year on an experimental whole-virus Ebola vaccine that has proven effective in monkeys. The vaccine is based on a form of the virus, developed at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, that provokes an immune response but cannot replicate or infect other cells because the VP30 gene has been deleted.
Researchers at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections reported that they identified 234 genes whose expression may explain why a promising SIV vaccine works in some monkeys but not in others. In a separate study presented at the conference, researchers found that an HIV antibody combined with a drug that binds to toll-like receptor 7 suppressed a hybrid simian-human immunodeficiency virus better than either treatment alone, even after therapy was discontinued.
A low dose of romidepsin, a drug already approved to treat cancer, restored social deficits in mouse models of autism with abnormally high levels of histone deacetylase 2, researchers reported in Nature Neuroscience. Autism spectrum disorders and cancers share genetic traits, and other cancer drugs might also affect ASD, the researchers said.
Foam extracted from cows' lungs at the slaughterhouse helps human infants with hyaline membrane disease survive, in an example of so-called farm to pharma technology. Efforts to develop synthetic surfactant to help premature babies breathe have largely fallen short, although one product is undergoing human testing, meanwhile the purified extraction from a single set of bovine lungs is adequate to get two infants breathing.
Full-body positron emission tomography revealed that octopuses had up to a threefold higher radiotracer uptake in regenerating arms, indicating that actively dividing cells were present in the peripheral nervous tissue, blastema and muscles. The study, in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine, "represents a first step toward the use of nuclear medicine imaging techniques in new emerging research areas such as neurobiology of invertebrates and animals with particular relevance in the field of regenerative medicine," researchers wrote.
Research on animals to improve human health often improves animal health as well, as demonstrated when veterinarians at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago prescribed a human heart medication for a chimpanzee showing signs of heart disease. The zoo's multidisciplinary animal care team, led by veterinarian Kathryn Gamble, includes cardiologists, an ophthalmologist, a dentist, an oral surgeon, a dermatologist, a gynecologist and other experts in human and veterinary medicine, who apply knowledge of human health to animal care.
More than 4,700 veterinary health professionals in Africa, Asia and the Middle East have received training over the past 12 months on disease surveillance and forecasting, biosafety and security, laboratory operations, disease prevention and control, and outbreak response. The US Agency for International Development and the United Nations' Food & Agriculture Organization partnered on the initiative to protect animal and human health.
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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.