Air France CEO Defends Transportation of Research Primates

(An abridged repost from Agence France Presse; "Air France to continue transporting lab monkeys")

May 21, 2015

Air France will continue to transport live monkeys for laboratory testing, the airline's CEO Alexandre de Juniac said at an Air-France-KLM shareholders' meeting held as animal rights activists protested nearby.

Juniac, who was re-elected by shareholders to remain at the helm of the French-Dutch company, said in response to an activist's question that the airline would defend the practice as long as it served the interests of science.
At the protest some of the around 30 activists donned monkey costumes and locked themselves up in a cage.

Challenged on the issue by a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Juniac said his company has sought advice from experts who believe "experimenting on primates with a similar genetic ancestry to human beings is indispensable" to research.
"So long as medical research for the improvement of human health requires these experiments, we will continue to transport them," he lashed out.

Juniac also said Air France applies relevant regulations and ensures the animals are well treated...

DeBakey Journalism Award Deadline Approaching

The Michael E. DeBakey Journalism Awards, named after the Foundation for Biomedical Research's (FBR) late chairman Dr. Michael E. DeBakey, honor reporting that has enhanced public understanding of how the humane and responsible use of animal models leads to medical and scientific discoveries.  Awards are presented for outstanding investigative or interpretive reporting published, broadcast or posted online between May 1st, 2014 and April 30th, 2015.

Entries may be submitted in the following categories. FBR reserves the right to adjust placement of entries based on number and quality of entries in each category. If you have any questions about which category in which you should enter, please email [email protected]

  • Print – Large Market (national/international)
  • Print – Small Market (local/regional)
  • Television
  • Radio
  • Online

Entries must be accompanied by the following:

  • Cover letter (or email) from journalist explaining the importance of the piece,
  • Category in which the journalist is entering,
  • Journalist’s brief  biography,
  • Brief letter/email of consent from employer supervisor/employer,
  • Optional letter(s) of support from employer or colleagues, and
  • The story itself, either as attachment or as link.

 

Deadline for entry is June 15th, 2015. 

Submit your entry to:

[email protected], Subject: The Michael E. DeBakey Journalism Awards

or

Foundation for Biomedical Research
1100 Vermont Avenue, NW Suite 1100
Washington DC 20005
Attention: The Michael E. DeBakey Journalism Awards

 2013-2014 Winners:

Kerry Sanders & Erika Angulo, NBC News (Television)

Kristen Brown, San Francisco Chronicle (Print, Small Market)

Amy Dockser Marcus, The Wall Street Journal (Print, Large Market)

 Rebecca Jacobson, PBS NewsHour (Online) (tie)

Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, VetStreet.com (Online) (tie)

Jon Hamilton, National Public Radio (Radio)

Florie Charles & the UCSF Science Policy Group (Viral Video)

NABR Drafts Response to PCRM Petition for USDA Rule On ‘Alternatives’

As is our customary service to member institutions, NABR has drafted comprehensive comments in response to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) solicitation for public comments (March 30 Federal Register (80 FR 16592)) on the subject and the petition for new federal rulemaking proposed by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). NABR encourages member institutions first to review this draft document and let us know any additional concerns or suggestions. Then please submit your own online response to APHIS at Regulations.gov. (Docket ID: APHIS 2014 -0050). Feel free to support the NABR submission by reference in your comments there. APHIS will consider public input received on or before May 29, 2015.

Specifically, the 12-page PCRM petition dated October 30, 2013 asks APHIS to (1) define the term alternatives, (2) clarify the existing definition of painful procedure, (3) establish standards governing the consideration of such alternatives at AWA-registered research facilities and (4) acknowledge USDA authority to enforce regulations regarding the consideration of alternatives to procedures likely to produce pain and distress in animals. With this announcement, APHIS is soliciting comments regarding the petition and any issues raised by the petition that should be taken into consideration by the agency. To help determine if any action should be taken on this request, APHIS poses six questions for interested parties to answer.

NABR Releases THREE NEW Members-Only Exclusives!

NABR is pleased to announce not one, but THREE brand-new exclusive products that we hope you will find helpful: a USDA Inspection Management Checklist and a special on-demand webinar on Chapter 7 of the USDA’s Research Facility Inspection Guide.

Developed with input from experts in the field and with the invaluable contributions of Dr. Taylor Bennett, the USDA INSPECTION MANAGEMENT CHECKLIST could prevent you from making costly mistakes during your next visit with a USDA veterinary medical officer (VMO). Print our handy checklist to make sure all your bases are covered for your next USDA inspection! To access it, please click the "download" button below (log-in required).


NABR DL Button

 

As you are already aware, Chapter 7 of the USDA’s Research Facility Inspection Guide has been revised significantly. In this straight-to-video webinar, Dr. Bennett provides you with a step-by-step analysis of what those changes are and what they mean to the biomedical research community.  Click the button below to view the webinar (log-in required).

NABR Watch Button

 

Last but not least, we are pleased to announce our third annual “Q&A with the USDA” webinar on July 21, 2015. This is a unique opportunity for NABR members to ask questions directly to the leadership of USDA. Drs. Betty Goldentyer and Robert Gibbens, the Eastern and Western Region Directors of the Animal Care division, have graciously agreed to participate.  Questions should be submitted in advance to [email protected], and they will be reviewed and formatted to prevent duplication. Questions will be answered in the order they are received, so please submit them as soon as possible. As in the past we will schedule the session for an hour, but will continue the webinar until all your questions have been addressed.

Register

We hope that you’ll find these new resources valuable.  If you have any questions about them, please email us at [email protected].

FBI Resources on Cyber Security Now Available

We hope you attended our most recent webinar “Cyber Threats and Cyber Security: Are You Prepared?”  Those who participated were treated to eye opening presentations by the experts at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).  If you missed it, you still may benefit from a number of resources the Bureau was kind enough to provide, which we are including below.

These documents, available here, will give you a general overview of cyber threats and best types of cyber security practices:

The Insider Threat – An introduction to detecting and deterring an insider spy - It’s easy to detect someone from the outside seeking to do an institution harm. But what if the infiltration has come from the inside? This general overview of detecting and deterring an insider spy will help make your institution safer.

Internet Social Networking Risks - Social networking is everywhere and nearly everyone engages in it.  Take a moment to learn the risks and preventative measures needed to protect not only your institution, but yourself, from con artists, criminals, and hactivists.

Economic Espionage – Protecting America’s Trade Secrets - Proprietary information or technology.  Every research institution has them. In this FBI pamphlet, learn more about the laws in place to protect your institution from those who wish to steal your intellectual property.

Higher Education and National Security: The Targeting of Sensitive, Proprietary and Classified Information on Campuses of Higher Education - This whitepaper developed by FBI’s Counterintelligence Strategic Partnership Unit will educate U.S. colleges and universities on the risks of cyber security breaches from abroad and how best to protect valuable information and data.

Visitors: Risks and Mitigation - Learn how to better protect sensitive information at your facility from site visitors who may be seeking to compromise your security.

Finally, if you or your institution’s IT team feel that your cyber security has been compromised, please contact your local FBI Field Office immediately.

Washington University in St. Louis’ Magazine Highlights Important Translational Research with Dogs

“Outlook,” the magazine published by Washington University in St. Louis, took an interesting look at the connection between animals, specifically dogs, and cancer research for both human and animal benefit in its April edition.

Physicians, collaborating with veterinarians, are designing clinical trials to seek out mutually beneficial therapies and treat diseases.   “Shared Medicine” is an interesting examination of the One Health, or One Medicine, movement and clearly shows the importance of animal research when it comes to conquering cancer not just for mankind but for dogs and other species, as well.

Through these endeavors, researchers are hoping to accelerate cancer drug and treatment development for humans and their four-legged friends.  “People love their pets and want to treat them when they get cancer,” Dr. David Curel, professor of radiation oncology and of cancer biology at Washington University said. “And dogs get cancers that are very similar to human cancers.”

To read “Shared Medicine,” please click here.

New York Judge Amends Order in Chimpanzee ‘Personhood’ Case

Questions about the legal rights of chimpanzees, including their possible “personhood,” have received considerable media attention, beginning in the late 1990’s as the field of animal rights law began to grow more active. So when a New York judge issued an order April 20 in a case filed by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) on behalf of two research chimpanzees, a Google News search produced nearly 150 results about it. Media outlets often parrot animal rights organizations’ interpretations of the facts, and this was all too true in this instance. A NhRP press release mistakenly claimed for the “first time in world history” a judge “recognizes two chimpanzees as legal persons and grants them writ of habeas corpus.” Many media outlets repeated these statements and/or went even further with their headlines.

It appears the New York Post was the first news organization to actually contact the court for clarification and reported that Judge Barbara Jaffe had “her principal court attorney send out an email blasting the activists’ ‘inaccurate press release’ and insisting that her order merely scheduled a May 6 hearing in the case.” She also quickly amended her written order by crossing out reference to a Writ of Habeas Corpus from the pre-printed title. The New York Daily News updated their account saying the action was a “routine determination to consider the matter [and] stopped short of implying that chimps are persons — as the group exuberantly proclaimed in a press release that got international attention.” The New York Times (subscription required) also carried a more complete, updated story. Nature published a reliable question and answer piece about the confusing legal implications. However, while some other media outlets have done second or revised reports, there are still erroneous news articles available online and new ones are appearing.

NABR’s Special Update of April 21 was correctly cautious about the New York court’s order in this case and its implications thanks to the advice of our own legal counsel and that of Pepperdine School of Law Professor Richard Cupp, who are following developments closely. In that regard, the Office of the New York Solicitor General, representing Stony Brook University in the matter, requested a postponement for submitting their response. The hearing of same is now set to take place on May 27 in Manhattan.

Rubella Has Been Eradicated from North and South America

According to an April 29 BBC News report, the rubella virus has been eradicated in the Americas.  North and South America are the first regions of the world to eliminate the virus after no home-grown cases have developed in five years.

This historic achievement can directly be attributed to the value of animal research.  The vaccine used across the world today was first tested in mice and rabbits for safety as well as monkey and rabbit tissues for efficacy.

Up to 20,000 children in North and South America were born with the virus, also known as German measles, until mass vaccinations began.

To read more, please click here.

Wall Street Journal Features Op-Ed by FBR/NABR President

On Friday, April 24, the Wall Street Journal printed a very informative and hard-hitting op-ed by Frankie Trull, President of the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) and NABR.

The article entitled, “Animal Testing and Its Gifts to Humans,” discusses the indispensable role animal research plays in the discovery of new treatments and how the availability of animal models is being jeopardized by the efforts of animal rights organizations.  Trull’s piece focuses on a new experimental treatment for glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), an aggressive tumor that kills about 12,000 people in the U.S. each year.  This experimental treatment, that wouldn’t have been possible without animal research, is saving the lives of patients who just a short time ago had little hope of survival.

With a total circulation of 2.3 million readers, this opinion editorial has reached a wide audience about the importance of  animal research, including  influencers nationwide.  To view the article, please click here.  See below for the plain text.

 


The Wall Street Journal
Opinion Section – April 23, 2015
Animal Testing and Its Gifts to Humans
By Frankie L. Trull

 

Patients with aggressive brain tumors finally have reason for hope. Thanks to the work of scientists and physicians at Duke University, an experimental new treatment for glioblastoma multiforme, or GBM—an aggressive tumor that kills about 12,000 people in the U.S. each year—is saving the lives of patients who, just months ago, had little hope of survival.

This extraordinary development wouldn’t have been possible without animal research. Yet many in the animal-rights community condemn the use of any and all animals in medical research and continue to push for testing bans. Such efforts ignore the fact that when it comes to medical research, animal models are indispensable. Further proof of this came on Wednesday with news in the journal Nature that a drug to fight Ebola had showed remarkable success when tested in rhesus monkeys.

The brain-tumor treatment developed at Duke is a re-engineered polio virus. The new virus designed by researchers helps the body’s immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. As in countless other revolutionary therapies, animal research played an invaluable role in creating this treatment.

Before human trials began, the re-engineered virus was injected into the brains of macaque monkeys, whose systems operate similarly to those of humans. Since the raw polio virus often results in paralysis, such testing of the modified virus made sense—and helped demonstrate that the body’s immune system would cripple brain tumors if injected with the re-engineered virus.

This wasn’t the only instance where animal models proved crucial for the Duke team. While developing their therapy, these researchers relied on years of previous primate research.

One such study was a 1991 paper in which Harvard researchers used a genetically engineered virus to treat a mouse with GBM. In 1996 researchers at the State University of New York at Stony Brook used mice to prove that infecting a cell with a polio virus required a specific receptor on the cell’s surface. Then, in 2000, a research team from Duke and Stony Brook showed how a genetically modified polio virus eliminated human tumors bearing that special receptor in mice. This discovery laid the groundwork for the clinical trials that resulted in this breakthrough therapy.

Dependence on animal research is hardly unique to Duke researchers. A number of recent medical advances have their roots in animal models. Consider a Phase III clinical trial from 2013, which proved that a next-generation herpes virus could successfully treat melanoma patients. This research was the direct result of a 1995 study by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown University, demonstrating how a modified herpes virus can shrink tumors in mice and nonhuman primates.

More recently, animal research has helped pave the way toward restoring vision. Last September, a Japanese woman became the first person to undergo an experimental stem-cell treatment for blindness. The procedure was deemed safe for humans after several studies involving monkeys and mice.

The greatest medical contributions from animal research may still lie in the future. In a study published last year in the journal Stem Cell Reports, scientists in France and Germany were able to regenerate damaged brain areas in mice for the first time. The discovery could lead to treatments for human brain damage caused by everything from strokes to bullet wounds.

Despite these successes, critics continue to attack animal-research methods as needlessly cruel. Activists have succeeded in pressuring all but one major airline to stop carrying animal models to research labs. That’s a problem for scientists in the U.S. Most monkeys come from Asia and Mauritius, where they’re humanely raised on farms.

Consequently, researchers have had to turn to charter carriers. As a result, costs per animal have tripled. Those extra costs sap medical progress.

Another common argument by critics is that animal models rarely lead to discoveries that are relevant to humans. It’s undeniable that human physiology differs from that of mice or monkeys. But humans and animals still have much in common. Primates share fundamental similarities—from their use of hormones to their reactions to infection—that, for centuries, have helped deepen our understanding of the human body.

With the Duke trials, the project director initially called the idea of using polio as a therapy “nuts” because of the risk of paralysis. Animal models are what enabled his team to move forward with their work.

Activists calling for the elimination of animal studies grossly underestimate the human value of animal studies. Those who doubt this value need only look at the faces of patients in the Duke trial whose lives have been saved by these essential research techniques.

 

Ms. Trull is president of the Foundation for Biomedical Research.

Reprinted from The Wall Street Journal © 2015 Dow Jones & Company.  All rights reserved.

Director of NIH’s Office of AIDS Research Stepping Down in July

Dr. Jack Whitescarver has announced that he will step down effective July 1, 2015.  Dr. Whitescarver has led the Office of AIDS Research (OAR) at the National Institutes of Health since 2000.

“Jack has dedicated his life’s work to supporting research to prevent and treat, and ultimately find a cure for HIV/AIDS.  He has been instrumental in identifying the most important scientific priorities across NIH institutes and centers toward this effort,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “While we have made significant strides in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, many research challenges remain. But Jack’s dedicated efforts have moved us substantially closer to the ultimate goal of ending the AIDS pandemic.”

Dr. Whitescarver also serves as NIH Associate Director for AIDS Research. The NIH will appoint an acting director for the office while it seeks to recruit a new director.

To read NIH’s release, please click here.  To learn more about the NIH Office of AIDS Research, please visit http://www.oar.nih.gov.

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