New York Judge Rules Against Habeas Corpus for Chimps

Today, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffee ruled against a writ of habeas corpus for chimpanzees.

The case, Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) v. Stanley, brought forward by animal rights lawyer Stephen Wise and the NhRP, sought to establish legal rights on behalf of two chimpanzees currently located at Stony Brook University.  Wise and the NhRP had argued that these animals were denied their basic legal rights, going so far as to compare them to slaves and prisoners.

In her decision, Justice Jaffee defined "persons" as those who have "rights, duties, and obligations" and noted that, "Animals, including chimpanzees and other highly intelligent mammals, are considered as property under the law. They are accorded no legal rights beyond being guaranteed the right to be free from physical abuse and other mistreatment.” She also wrote, "The past mistreatment of humans, whether slaves, women, indigenous people or others, as property, doesn't, however, serve as a legal predicate or appropriate analogy for extending to nonhumans the status of legal personhood."

Justice Jaffee's decision is available for viewing here.

To read more about today's ruling, please see the coverage by The Wall Street JournalReuters, The New York Daily News, and The New York Post.

Please stay tuned for a more in-depth legal analysis from NABR.

Setting the Record Straight on Animal Research

In a story published today on The Conversation website, Lauren Emily Wright focuses on animal research, its value, and how best to ensure that animal care and scientific discovery can continue to blossom.

Wright’s article, “Animal research: varying standards are leading to bad science,” makes very good points in her discussion on the importance of animal care and the direct connection to accurate scientific results.  She goes on to note that good training and reasonable scientific policy is the best approach for research going forward.

To read, “Animal research: varying standards are leading to bad science,” please click here.

Dogs Helping in Development of Cataract Treatment

According to an article published by Science on July 22, a team of researchers and ophthalmologists at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) are working to tackle cataracts, a condition effecting humans and dogs, with the assistance of man’s best friend.

These researchers have been able to develop eye drops that have shown potential in rabbits and dogs, specifically black Labs, Queensland Heelers, and Miniature Pinschers.  The results have been nothing short of remarkable.  According to the article, “Eye drops could dissolve cataracts,” researchers could tell just by looking into the dogs eyes that the cataracts had decreased.

These developments are especially exciting considering that the only current treatment for cataracts, which effects tens of millions of people across the globe and approximately 17.2% of Americans over 40, is surgery.

To learn more about this discovery and to read the article, please click here.

Op-Ed on HIV/AIDS by NABR, FBR President Featured on Philly.com

An opinion piece by Frankie Trull, President of the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR) and the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR), has been featured in a major daily newspaper.

This morning, Philly.com, the website for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, printed her opinion piece, “Animal research crucial to creating AIDS treatments,” a telling discussion on the importance of animal research in the war on HIV/AIDS.  Nonhuman primates (NhP) have been a crucial cog in science’s efforts to discover a cure to this horrendous virus and thanks to the work at the Wistar Institute with these animals, we could be on the cusp of eradicating AIDS.  Additionally, let’s not forget that these studies could yield results to successfully treat SIV, the variant of HIV that effects monkeys.

To read the story, please click here, and feel free to share it with your friends, family, and colleagues.

Speaking of Research Stands-Up for Dog Research in the U.K.

Last week, in response to public outcry against the opening of a research beagle breeding facility in the U.K., Tom Holder penned a detailed analysis of the importance these models play in biomedical research in The Huffington Post.

Holder, the Director of Speaking of Research, highlights the discovery of insulin and the development of the rabies vaccine along with current achievements in perfecting artery to vein blood transfusions and a novel stem cell transplant treatment that allowed 23 pet dogs with paralyzing spinal injuries to regain some use of their rear legs.

He goes on to note that 20% of the dogs used in U.K. research are imported because U.K. breeding facilities cannot provide all of the dogs used.  Holder writes, “These dogs have to endure long and potentially stressful flights from other countries. Surely it is better to breed them here in the UK, where we have some of the highest standards of laboratory animal welfare in the world and where our facilities can be easily monitored by the Animals in Science Regulation Unit inspectors? The new breeding facility offers animal welfare standards above and beyond those demanded by the Government.”

To read Holder’s posting, “Why People Are Wrong to Oppose the New Beagle Breeding Facility,” and to view some informative videos, please click here.

Congress Introduces Bill to Encourage USDA Transparency

After hearing concerns from the biomedical research community, Congressman Rod Blum (R-IA) has introduced H.R.3136, the Enforcement Transparency Act (ETA).

This NABR-supported legislation would require the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to release the guidelines used in the formulation of any civil penalties for violations of the Animal Welfare Act.  At present, requests under the Freedom of Information Act for the penalty guidelines worksheet used by Investigative and Enforcement Services (IES) at the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have been denied.  Further, Congressional requests to the department for such information have been ignored.  H.R.3136 will provide the research community and the public a much greater understanding of how penalties are calculated for enforcement actions by USDA.

Please contact your Congressman today and urge him or her to cosponsor and support this common-sense legislation.  Click here to use NABR's Capwiz system to send an email directly to their offices or click here to locate your representative.

Do Dogs Hold the Key to Beating Cancer?

Over the centuries, dogs have been man’s best friend.  They’ve given us friendship, companionship, love, and protection.  But could they now help science cure cancer?  Today, July 20, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News featured an article on this exciting possibility entitled, “Cancer in Dogs Offers Insight for Humans.”

Through animal research, they just might.  Since sequencing the dog genome several years ago, scientists have discovered strong similarities in dog and human cancers and researchers hope, that through comparative oncology, human cancer research and cure development will learn valuable information from our canine friends.  One of the most notable of these dogs was that of retired North Dakota U.S. Senator Kent Conrad, named Dakota, who participated in a T-cell cancer project at the University of Texas’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center before passing away in February of 2013.

To learn more about the scientific efforts of researchers and dogs in combating cancer, please read the article by clicking here.

Chicago Sun-Times Prints Opinion Piece by NABR, FBR President

Frankie Trull, President of the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR) and the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR), has once again been featured in a major news publication lauding the importance of animal research.  On Sunday, July 12, her opinion piece, “In defense of using animals in lab research” was featured by the Chicago Sun-Times, a newspaper that has a Sunday circulation of over 406,000.

In “In defense of using animals in lab research,” she outlines the crucial value that animal models provide in the hunt to improve animal and human health.  She discusses the many similarities that humans have with animal models and charts the benefits that they provide in medical discovery, particularly with macular degeneration.

To read the story, please click here.

The Chicago Sun-Times opinion piece joins NABR and FBR’s media coverage in other nationally recognized publications like the Baltimore Sun, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times.

Johns Hopkins Researchers Receive Golden Goose Award for Accidental, Groundbreaking Discovery with Cats and Primates

Two neurophysiologists, Torsten Wiesel and David Hubel, have worked diligently to make discoveries in understanding our brains’ function and how best to treat childhood cataracts but it was an inadvertent mistake that led them to an important breakthrough.  Through their research with cats and primates, Wiesel and Hubel were pioneers in learning how human minds work by exploring and understanding the physiology behind visual perception in animals.

With this development, coupled with the decades of service to science, Wiesel and the late Hubel have been selected as the second winners of the 2015 Golden Goose Award.  This award, created by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), honors federally-funded researchers whose endeavors have resulted in significant benefit, although it may have once, initially seemed odd.

To learn more about the Golden Goose Award and Wiesel and Hubel’s serendipitous discovery, please click here.

Animal Activist Pressure Results in House Appropriations Report Language

A months-long, multi-pronged campaign by a variety of animal rights groups against some National Institutes of Health (NIH)-supported research projects involving nonhuman primates has resulted in a reference made in the report accompanying the House Committee on Appropriations bill for FY 2016. Included with many other comments and issues raised in the 263-page report, is this paragraph:

Review of Maternal Deprivation Studies.—The Committee is aware that prominent experts and animal advocacy organizations have raised concerns about the scientific and ethical justifications for maternal deprivation studies involving baby monkeys being conducted in both intramural and extramural NIH funded laboratories. The Committee is further aware that the NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare opened an investigation in response to these allegations on September 9, 2014. The investigations consulted with research investigators, the USDA, nonhuman primate center scientists, veterinarians, animal care staff and other relevant experts. As a result of the investigation, several modifications were made to the protocol and several procedures removed. Accordingly, the Committee requests NIH to conduct a review of its ethical policies and processes with respect to nonhuman primate research subjects, in consultation with outside experts, to ensure it has appropriate justification for animal research protocols and to provide an update on these efforts in the fiscal year 2017 budget request.

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