A coalition of organizations including the National Association of Biomedical Research issued a report this week calling for sweeping changes to rules governing animal research that would streamline a patchwork system of oversight that Ross McKinney of the Association of American Medical Colleges likened to a "crazy quilt." The changes would protect research animals "in a way that's consistent, coherent and effective," said McKinney, whose organization also contributed to the report.
Public misunderstanding of the vital role animals play in biomedical research is due in part to extremists' negative and misleading campaigns, which put not only lifesaving research but also researchers' lives at risk, writes behavioral sciences professor Mar Sanchez, a core scientist for the Division of Developmental and Cognitive Neuroscience at the Yerkes National Research Primate Center at Emory University. "Institutions have an important role to play in providing support and resources in this public conversation," Sanchez writes. "That role includes creating an active and transparent communication strategy around animal research and its benefit to society, which is a proven way to prevent and counteract animal-rights extremists' tactics to spread misinformation."
A highly pathogenic strain of H7N9 avian influenza circulating in China could be easily transmissible between animals, rendering it potentially capable of causing a global human pandemic, researchers reported in Cell Host & Microbe. The virus replicated easily in mice, ferrets and nonhuman primates; caused more severe disease in mammals than a less pathogenic strain; and spread from cage to cage among ferrets.
Scientists at the Salk Institute, the University of Southern California and the University of California at San Diego are participating in the Center for Epigenomics of the Mouse Brain Atlas -- a $25 million study funded by the NIH to identify cell types in the mammalian brain. The research is part of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative and involves cataloging cellular functions in more than 100 regions of the mouse brain, potentially providing a template for understanding how mammalian brains work.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder affects over 2 million Americans, and an NIH-funded study involving mice, dogs and people has brought researchers closer to understanding the role genetics play in the condition. "The findings also come as yet another reminder that we can learn an awful lot from taking into account our close relationship with our 'best friend,' the domestic dog," writes NIH Director Francis Collins.
There may be similarities between human and fish depression, with scientists suggesting the study of fish could help develop antidepressants, writes Heather Murphy. Just like humans, when zebra fish become depressed, they lose interest in eating and their surroundings.
A bipartisan group of 79 House members sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Scott Pruitt, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue urging consistency in federal regulations for biotechnology. "We are concerned that if the administration does not quickly develop a uniform position on biotechnology in agriculture, including gene editing, we will see an unworkable patchwork of international regulations emerge that will effectively further suppress American innovation and the solutions that come with it," according to the letter.
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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.