Your Voice Matters: Contact the President and Congress Today

As we reported last week to our membership, the new Congress has already begun business in Washington for its 2017-2019 legislative session. A total of 55 new Freshman Members of Congress from states and districts across the country are now settling-in to legislate on a full slate of issues, including those that impact biomedical research with animal studies.

In order to introduce these new lawmakers to NABR, its membership, and the various issues facing the future of biomedical research, NABR has sent a welcome letter (log-in required) to them and the rest of the 115th Congress. NABR encourages you to do the same. If you'd like to voice your support for biomedical research in this upcoming Congress and Presidential Administration, please click here to send a pre-written letter to the President, Vice President, both of your Senators, your Congressperson and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This is a tiny investment of your time that will pay significant dividends in terms of educating policy makers about the irreplaceable value of humane animal research.

Please continue to check your email and www.NABR.org for the latest news from NABR and be sure to follow NABR on Twitter to get breaking news instantly.

BREAKING NEWS: Dr. Francis Collins to Continue as NIH Director for Now

According to the Washington Post, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced late yesterday that Dr. Francis Collins, the current director of the NIH, will remain on the job at least temporarily.

An NIH spokesperson said that Dr. Collins has been “held over by the Trump administration,” however it is unclear whether President Donald Trump (R) will formally reappoint him or if he will serve until a possible permanent director is selected. President Trump has asked some 50 senior members of the Obama Administration to stay on to assist in the transition.

Others rumored to be possible candidates for the top post at NIH have been physician and U.S. Representative Andy Harris (R-MD), biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong and Geoffrey Ling, former biotech director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Dr. Collins, a geneticist, became director of the NIH in August of 2009. Because he was confirmed by the Senate during the Obama Administration he would not need to be reconfirmed if brought onboard by President Trump.

For more information on this breaking news, please see the coverage by the Washington Post, Science, and Nature.

As always, for the latest in news impacting the biomedical research community, please visit www.NABR.org or follow us on Twitter.

BREAKING NEWS: Governor Sonny Perdue Nominated as Agriculture Secretary

Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue (R), was nominated today by President-elect Donald Trump (R) to serve as the 31st U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

A veterinarian by training, Perdue would be responsible for overseeing a federal department that implements a broad range of programs in the areas of farming, natural resources, food safety, animal health, trade and nutrition, to name a few. Of utmost importance to the animal research community is USDA’s enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act.

Perdue is a small business owner and native of Bonaire, Georgia and he served as Governor from 2003 to 2011 where he focused on reducing government waste, improving education and reforming state government. Prior to becoming Governor, he earned his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1971 from the University of Georgia and served several terms in the Georgia State Senate.

Agriculture Secretary is the last Cabinet-level position to be nominated by the President-elect. There has not yet been any indication when Perdue’s confirmation hearing will be scheduled.

NABR Submits Comments to FDA on GLP Proposed Rule

Last August, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a proposed rule the in the Federal Register (Vol. 81, No. 164) titled, “Good Laboratory Practice for Nonclinical Laboratory Studies” [Docket No. FDA–2010–N–0548]. FDA has proposed amending the current regulations to require a complete quality system approach which they refer to as a GLP Quality System.

The proposed system would be required for safety and toxicity studies to support applications or submissions to the FDA. Proposed changes that would impact animal research facilities include additional management responsibilities, changes to SOP procedures and changes to address the management of multisite nonclinical laboratory studies.

NABR submitted comments to the FDA this afternoon, expressing concern that creating additional rules would be redundant with existing regulations and confusing for researchers, as research facilities are already governed by numerous other animal welfare requirements. A copy of our comments can be found here and NABR members are encouraged to use them as a basis for filing their own at regulations.gov. Comments must be submitted by January 21, 2017.

Animal Extremist Sentenced for Violating the AETA

As we reported on January 4, Nicole Kissane pled guilty to the charge of conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). Yesterday she was sentenced to 21 months in prison and $423,000 in restitution. Her accomplice, Joseph Buddenberg, was sentenced in May of last year to two years in federal prison and to $398,272 in restitution payments.

The two were arrested in July 2014 for their involvement in a months-long campaign of animal extremism by vandalizing property and illegally releasing mink from farms in five separate states.

In 2008, Buddenberg was charged in California for alleged illegal activity against researchers, but the charges were dropped two years later.

Found to be constitutional by numerous federal courts, enforcement of the AETA has been an effective law in deterring campaigns of violence against biomedical researchers, their families, and their institutions.

Senate Confirmation Hearings Set to Begin Soon for HHS Secretary

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on Wednesday, January 18 to consider the nomination of Representative Tom Price (R-GA) as Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Before any appointed Cabinet member can be confirmed, the Senate must hold a hearing with the committee that has jurisdiction over the agency related to the position; in this case, the HELP committee has jurisdiction of the Secretary of HHS. Following this hearing, on a date yet to be determined, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing in which they are expected to vote to send the confirmation to the Senate floor. A final vote to confirm Price as Secretary will occur on the Senate floor. According to Roll Call, “it is the Finance Committee that has primary responsibility for the Health and Human Services nomination, since it has jurisdiction over taxes and entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid.”

President-elect Donald Trump has at the time of this writing not announced a selection for Agriculture Secretary or Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Please watch for updates from NABR throughout the nomination and confirmation process.

The First Webinar of 2017 is Now Available On-Demand

The recording of last week's NABR webinar, "The 2016 USDA Inspection Data: What a Difference a Decade Makes," is now available online in the Members Only section of NABR.org for on-demand viewing.

Please click here to view "The 2016 USDA Inspection Data: What a Difference a Decade Makes."  You will need your NABR members-only log-in credentials to watch the presentation.

If you have problems logging in, please contact us at [email protected].

Animal Models a Game-Changer for the Dental Field

Biomedical research is an essential component of virtually every aspect of medicine, but did you know that it’s helping make some pretty significant strides in the dental field? Studies using mice, rats and other animals have led to treatments for diseases that affect many of us. Procedures and discoveries for oral cancer, gum diseases like gingivitis, dental implants, and everyday procedures that occur while you are in the chair at the dentist’s office have been developed using animal models.

Perhaps the most annoying dental issue for many people is the incidence of cavities, damage within a tooth caused by bacteria. Cavities are usually treated by removing the decayed portion of the tooth and “filling” it with substances like gold, silver, an amalgam of various metals, or a composite resin. This procedure, as most would agree, can often be painful, burdensome and expensive depending on the size and location of the cavity. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 91% of Americans over the age of 20 experience a cavity at least once during their lifetime.

However, an exciting new study recently reported by the Guardian could someday result in fillings being unnecessary. This study has helped scientists to develop a therapy that promotes repair and rebuilding of the cells within teeth. When a sponge was soaked in a drug used to treat Alzheimer’s disease and then inserted into the teeth of mice infected with cavities, the tooth material began to regenerate. While the therapy showed great success for tooth regeneration within mouse models, more research is required before the results can be applied to humans, since cavities in humans are much larger. If this therapy is successful in humans, the need for fillings could someday be eliminated—a very welcome concept for the many people who dread trips to the dentist to have cavities filled.

Follow NABR on Twitter to learn more about the importance of animal models and to stay up to date on exciting developments in biomedical research.

Another Extremist Reaches Plea Deal in AETA Case

Last week Nicole Kissane pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). She joins codefendant Joseph Buddenberg who pleaded guilty to the same charge last year in connection to a campaign of animal extremism against the fur industry.

Kissane and Buddenberg were arrested in July 2014 for their participation in a cross-country campaign of vandalism against the fur industry which included the release of mink from farms. Their months-long crime spree covered 40,000 miles of travel over five states. A Newsweek article, Animal Activists Are Shouting out Their Crimes Online, gives more background on Buddenberg and Kissane, as well as other extremists boasting about their actions anonymously. Buddenberg once faced charges in California for alleged illegal activity against researchers in 2008 but they were dismissed in 2010.

According to news coverage by ABC News, it is expected that prosecutors will recommend an 18-month sentence. She has agreed to pay more than $420,000 in restitution. Buddenberg was sentenced in May to two years in federal prison and must pay $398,272 in restitution. For more news coverage of Kissane’s plea, please see the San Diego Union-Tribune story by clicking here.

The AETA has been found constitutional by the courts numerous times and has been influential in deterring campaigns of violence against biomedical researchers, their families, and their institutions.

Study with Lab Mice Shows Reversal of Osteoporosis

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, approximately 54 million Americans have osteoporosis or low bone mass, placing them at risk for osteoporosis. Approximately one in two women age 50 and older will break a bone due to osteoporosis and the complications can be serious. The disease is responsible for two million broken bones and $19 billion in healthcare costs each year. Experts expect that number will reach $25.3 billion by 2025. Osteoporosis is a serious problem and thanks to a study from the Children's Medical Research Institute (CRI) at the University of Texas Southwestern, a new cure could be on the horizon.

Scientists at UT Southwestern’s CRI gave daily doses of Teriparatide (PTH), a drug approved for limited use in osteoporosis treatment, to female mice modeling osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. They also gave recombinant Osteolectin, a bone-forming growth factor that promotes the formation of new bone from skeletal stem cells in the bone marrow, to mice without ovaries. Both groups of mice exhibited increased bone volume and reversed any loss that occurred. This research could have big implications for other regenerative medicine-centered studies.

To learn more about this study, please click here.

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