Some animal-rights groups lobby to end research that could extend the healthy life spans of dogs, cats and livestock; help birds recover from disasters; and protect great apes, elephants and other endangered species, writes Foundation for Biomedical Research President Matthew R. Bailey. "Discouraging studies condemns animals to unnecessary suffering and death from preventable illnesses," Bailey writes. "Real animal lovers should be proud to support animal research."
A skin patch embedded with microneedles and either rosiglitazone or an experimental chemical called CL316243 encased in nanoparticles turned unhealthy white fat into metabolically active brown fat in mice, potentially offering a targeted treatment for obesity, researchers reported in ACS Nano. "The nanoparticles were designed to effectively hold the drug and then gradually collapse, releasing it into nearby tissue in a sustained way instead of spreading the drug throughout the body quickly," said biomedical engineer Zhen Gu.
Viruses depend on their hosts to replicate, and some evolve along with their host species -- called co-divergence -- while others jump to new hosts via cross-species transmission, which is associated with severe emerging diseases such as HIV, Ebola and avian influenza. A recent study found cross-species transmission in more common that co-divergence, showing that viral evolution is more complex than previously understood and highlighting the importance of predicting cross-species transmission.
Researchers have produced a chimeric virus that will allow them to use mice to study human cancers caused by infection with a herpesvirus. The team took a key gene associated with Kaposi virus infection and cloned it into a murine virus, a development that will facilitate study of virus-associated lymphoma, according to a report in the journal PLOS Pathogens.
The Wellcome Trust and the Simons Foundation pledged more than $13 million over five years for the International Brain Lab, a collaborative study involving 21 of the top neuroscience laboratories in the US and Europe, which will initially study brain activity in foraging mice. The IBL brings together experimental and theoretical neuroscientists as well as data analysts in a research model based on large-scale physics projects with a flat hierarchy and a collaborative decision-making process.
Because cancers in dogs and cats are similar to malignancies in people, immunotherapy trials testing cancer treatments increasingly involve companion animals, Ellen Pure, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, said at the recent International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference. However, there are still some hurdles, according to Canines-N-Kids Foundation founder Ulrike Szalay: "Canines provide us an opportunity to prove out immunotherapies in a more relevant model -- spontaneously developing cancer -- but we also need to do a little more mapping of the canine immune system to really fully understand how it compares to the human immune system."
Public outreach and education by institutions and companies with a stake in animal research varies from serious engagement to no outreach at all, despite a multitude of campaigns against scientific research, writes Allyson Bennett. Institutions and agencies that fail to defend animal research and researchers jeopardize not only the science and scientists, but also the public, which stands to lose in the absence of scientific discoveries that benefit society, other animals and the environment, Bennett writes.
Draft FDA guidance recommends best practices for animal studies used to evaluate certain organ preservation devices, including experiment setup, transportability and contamination control, and the public comment period on the document is open. The agency suggests that researchers contact the agency during the presubmission phase to obtain feedback on methods for proposed animal studies.
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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.