Limiting medical research on animals imperils research that promises to help not only people but also the 12 million dogs and cats that develop cancer in the US each year, among other animals, writes FBR President Matthew R. Bailey. In fact, animals are among the primary beneficiaries of animal research, and animal lovers should support it, Bailey writes.
Fifty years ago, the first human heart transplant was performed, a breakthrough that was tested and refined in dogs before it become clinically feasible in humans. Today, with the benefit of anti-rejection medications, 85% of heart transplant patients live at least a year after the surgery, and median post-surgery survival is believed to exceed a dozen years overall, reaching about 14 years for those who survive the first year.
Studies involving mice, sheep and baboons laid the groundwork for the successful birth of a baby to a woman who was born without a uterus and had a uterus transplant. The mother is participating in a clinical trial of uterus transplants in women whose uterus is nonfunctioning or nonexistent.
Scientists recently presented results of a study in which they used focused ultrasound to modulate brain activity in macaques and sheep, and the results suggest that the technology might be useful in the diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, addiction and other mental health and neurodegenerative disorders. Focused ultrasound is already approved for five therapeutic uses, and studies are underway for more than 90 others.
Human brain organoids typically have not behaved like human brains in the lab or when transplanted into mice, but newly developed mini-brains implanted with human glioblastoma cells grew tumors as they grow in the human brain. Researchers hope to receive regulatory approval to grow more brain organoids using cells from glioblastoma patients to test experimental compounds or approved drugs.
Dr. Niels Pedersen, who has been studying feline infectious peritonitis since 1964, said at a recent conference that antiviral drugs could cure "a large percentage" of cats with the fatal disease. The protease inhibitor GC376 and the nucleoside inhibitor EV0984 are among the treatments being studied and have shown promise in field trials, but it may be some time before veterinarians have access to them.
The cerebral cortex of a dog has approximately 530 million neurons, compared with 250 million in cats and some 16 billion in humans, but neuron count is not necessarily related to brain size, a study published in Frontiers in Neuroanatomy found. For example, raccoons have smaller brains than primates but have a roughly equivalent number of cortical neurons, says Suzana Herculano-Houzel, who developed the method for measuring neurons.
High-quality medical research is expensive, difficult and time-consuming, and lawsuits or the threat of lawsuits further dissuade scientists from conducting promising studies, writes pediatric professor Aaron Carroll. Law professor Nicholas Bagley and associate professor of medicine Pieter Cohen, who has been the target of such a lawsuit, joined Carroll in writing a JAMA Internal Medicine article about the damage lawsuits intended to intimidate inflict on scientific inquiry.
For 35 years, FBR has advanced biomedical research for the sake of both human and animal health. We can't do our job without your support. Please give what you can. Together we will continue to make a difference.
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.