A clinical trial of stem cell therapy at Wabash Valley Animal Hospital in Terre Haute, Ind., had been scheduled to end last fall, but the trial has been extended because of promising results. The blinded, placebo-controlled study is testing the effects of stem cell injections in pet dogs' joints, and some owners say they have seen significant improvement.
Stem cell biologist Jens Magnusson follows a vegetarian diet out of concern for the environment and says that though he doesn't always like the fact that his research involves animals, "it is not always possible to replace research animals with other systems such as cell cultures or computer models." Animal research expands scientific knowledge and leads to new medicines, Magnusson says, and he accounts for animal welfare when designing research protocols.
Researchers are studying whether an antibacterial protein in platypus milk helps humans overcome antibiotic-resistant bugs. A quirk in the molecule's structure is unique among more than 100,000 known protein structures, and scientists expect the findings to advance drug discovery as they work to develop tools to combat superbugs.
Scientists are closing in on genetic engineering methods expected to yield livestock that are resilient and resistant to bacterial and viral infections including avian influenza, oyster herpes virus, E. coli, campylobacter, African swine fever and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus, says Roslin Institute director Eleanor Riley. Gene editing could improve animal welfare and reduce the environmental impact of raising livestock.
The American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation and the V Foundation for Cancer Research are jointly funding a clinical trial of an immunotherapy for urothelial carcinoma in dogs, and they hope the results will help people, too. "What is important now is to see human medicine working closely with veterinary medicine to benefit all species, and in this case, dogs and humans," said veterinarian Diane Brown, CEO of the AKC's Canine Health Foundation.
Veterinarian Valerie Johnson, a post-doctorate fellow and researcher at Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, has been using stem cells to treat a dog with lupus infected with drug-resistant staphylococcus, a polar bear's arthritis and injuries in big cats, bears and wolves at a local animal sanctuary. Dr. Johnson usually extracts the stem cells from fat tissue or bone marrow, but she uses blood samples when treating elephants, giraffes and other very large animals.
Arizona State University received a grant of more than $6.4 million from the Open Philanthropy Project to test a multivalent frameshift peptide vaccine for canine cancer that was developed at the ASU Biodesign Institute's Center for Innovations in Medicine. The clinical trial will last about five years and take place at sites in Fort Collins, Colo.; Madison, Wis.; and Davis, Calif.
Johns Hopkins University and other biomedical research institutions have policies encouraging the adoption of laboratory animals after research is complete whenever feasible, and the National Association for Biomedical Research says at least six states have laws mandating that lab animals be released for adoption when possible. Researchers and technical staff have long been adopting lab animals, and some are concerned that animal rights activists' efforts to mandate adoption is a veiled effort to end animal research.
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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.