Animal research has led to the human papillomavirus vaccine, a stem cell treatment for paralysis, an experimental malaria vaccine, an Ebola virus vaccine that is now being distributed in Africa, and a gene therapy for choroideremia, among other recent breakthroughs that have saved or transformed the lives of humans and their animal companions, writes Tom Holder, director of Speaking of Research. "In the UK, animal experiments are carried out under highly regulated conditions, and are only allowed where there are no non-animal methods that can be used instead," he writes.
Physicians have no way to treat fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, but a study conducted with rats could yield a way of reversing the memory and learning deficits associated with the disorder. Researchers found that rats treated with the hormone thyroxine or the drug metformin had no learning or memory issues as adults after prenatal exposure to alcohol.
Scientists developed an algorithm that identified four existing compounds that could be repurposed for hepatocellular carcinoma, and one, pyrvinium pamoate, appeared effective when tested in mouse models of the liver cancer, the scientists reported in Nature Communications. However, NIH funds are limited for early-stage research and drugmakers are reluctant to fund studies involving off-patent drugs, creating challenges for launching a clinical trial, study co-author Atul Butte said.
Male mice that ate a diet including 10% tomato powder daily for 35 weeks were 50% less likely to develop nonmelanoma skin cancers, according to research from The Ohio State University. There was no significant decline in tumor incidence among female mice, underscoring the importance of accounting for sex-related differences in development of preventive treatments, senior author Tatiana Oberyszyn said.
The fastest species in each locomotion category have midrange body mass, or about 100 kilograms for animals that run or swim, and about 1 gram to 10 grams for animals that fly, according to an analysis of 474 species. The researchers created a model that "works for animals of different ecosystems, locomotion types and even for larger extinct species," said study leader Myriam Hirt.
The University of Missouri School of Medicine is facing a complaint regarding the use of live animals in physician training, but the Association of American Medical Colleges says animals are "vital in the medical education continuum," and Foundation for Biomedical Research President Matthew Bailey says the medical community is not sold on total replacement of animals with simulators. "While simulators have become increasingly advanced in recent years and make good adjuncts to training, many doctors do not agree that they provide an adequate level of training before operating on live people," Bailey says.
The London-based nonprofit Understanding Animal Research offers free virtual tours of four animal research laboratories to improve public understanding and support, and similar efforts are underway in Belgium, France, Germany and Spain. In the US, Speaking of Research grades animal research institutions' transparency efforts, but some advocates worry that it is not enough and call for more transparency and outreach to boost public support for animal research.
A 2018 spending plan under consideration in the House would increase the NIH's budget to $35.2 billion and instruct the NIH to cover indirect expenses in grants. The bill would increase funding for the All of US study by $80 million, the Brain Research Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies initiative by $76 million and Alzheimer's disease research by $400 million.
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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.