NABR, FBR President’s Op-Ed on Cardiology Breakthrough Published in the Tampa Tribune

In case you missed it, the Tampa Tribune featured an op-ed piece by Frankie Trull, President of the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR) and the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) on August 23.

Animal research remains at heart of medical progress” highlights possibly one of the biggest breakthroughs in cardiac care in recent history.  Thanks to a few dozen pigs, cardiac patients who once may have been unfit for surgery can now have faulty heart valves replaced noninvasively.  The new procedure, called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), eliminates the need for open-heart surgery.  TAVR uses a tube holding a folded-up valve inserted into the groin. The tube is threaded into the heart and the valve opened up with a balloon.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger even underwent TAVR last year, saying, “I am more energetic, people tell me I look better, and I feel much less tired.”  Had he not undergone TAVR, his doctors told him he would be confined to a wheelchair with a 50-50 chance of surviving an additional year.  “Those who oppose animal testing, in short, are obstructing medical innovations that promise to add years to the lives of older Americans — precious years that can be productive and satisfying,” noted Ms. Trull.

To read the op-ed and to learn more, please click here.

Will a Ban on Chimpanzee Research Actually Do More Harm than Good?

Time and time again, animal rights supporters have stated that a ban on animal research is the best solution for the animals.  But is it really?  Debora MacKenzie with New Scientist published an article today that answers that important question with a surprising answer.

In her story, “Ban on chimp testing puts wild ape vaccine for Ebola at risk,” MacKenzie points out the devastating toll of the Ebola virus on both humans and wild chimpanzees in Africa.  After a 17 month outbreak claiming more than 11,000 victims, promising human trials are now underway across West Africa.  But what about the apes?  They too are susceptible to Ebola and according to the University of Cambridge, one third of the world’s gorilla population has been eradicated because of the virus, leaving the western lowland gorilla critically endangered.  Thanks to research at the New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana, an edible vaccination is in development to prevent apes from spreading Ebola to each other.

This research may end because of a long campaign by animal rights supporters.  On September 15 a ban by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is set to begin on the use of captive chimpanzees in biomedical research.

To read the article and learn more about this important research and the impact of the ban, please click here.

New York’s Highest Court Deals Serious Blow to Chimpanzee “Personhood” Movement

Earlier today, the New York Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, declined to hear appeals brought forward by animal rights lawyer Stephen Wise and the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP).

Previous attempts by Wise and NhRP to seek a writ of habeas corpus for privately-owned chimpanzees had failed in lower courts. Wise argued that chimpanzees were denied their basic legal rights, comparing them to slaves and prisoners.  Previously, three justices in a midlevel court denied legal standing for chimpanzees by saying the animals "cannot bear any legal duties, submit to societal responsibilities or be held legally accountable for their actions."  Most recently, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffee noted in Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) v. Stanley that, "Animals… are accorded no legal rights beyond being guaranteed the right to be free from physical abuse and other mistreatment.”

To read more about today's developments, please see the coverage by U.S. News & World Report and ABC News.

Dogs on the Hunt for Cancer Cure in Humans

Earlier this week, Chemical & Engineering News featured a wonderful look into the important role that animal research, specifically that with canine models, play in improving human and veterinary help.  The article, “Could Fido Fetch a Cure?” takes a close look at dogs with cancer and the valuable insight they are providing to help cure the disease.

After receiving the diagnosis that Moses, a six-year-old black Labrador retriever, had lymphoma, he was enrolled by his family in a clinical trial at the University of Missouri where he would be treated with new class of chemotherapy drugs.  These new agents, called indenoisoquinolines, were developed through a collaboration between the United States’ top veterinary schools and the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Comparative Oncology Trials Consortium (COTC).  The article notes, “running clinical trials on dogs with cancer is a win-win. Trials may save the lives of beloved family pets, while the data collected can be used to inform drug development for human patients.”  Thanks to their efforts, Moses is doing well.

Cancer is not exclusively a human problem and our four-legged friends are helping researchers improve therapy.  To learn more about this effort, please read “Could Fido Catch a Cure?” by clicking here.

Support the ETA – Contact Your Congressman Today!

Congress returns from its August recess very soon and before they get back to work, it is important that your Congressman hear from you about H.R. 3136, the Enforcement Transparency Act (ETA).  You can contact your Congressman in mere seconds thanks to NABR's Capwiz system, a quick, easy-to-use portal to send a pre-written (but editable) message to your Congressman.  Please take a moment to urge your Congressman to cosponsor and support H.R. 3136!

H.R. 3136 is a common-sense, bipartisan bill that will provide the research community and the public a much greater understanding of how penalties are calculated for enforcement actions by USDA.  Simply put, the ETA would require the USDA to release the guidelines used by Investigative and Enforcement Services (IES) at the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in the formulation of any civil penalties for violations of the Animal Welfare Act.  To read NABR's talking points on the ETA, please click here.

Again, please contact your Congressman TODAY and urge him or her to cosponsor and support H.R. 3136.  Click here to use NABR's Capwiz system to send an email directly to their offices and please encourage your friends, family, and coworkers to do the same.

2014-2015 Michael E. DeBakey Journalism Award Winners Announced

The Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) has announced the winners of the 14th annual Michael E. DeBakey Journalism Awards. Named in honor of world-renowned heart surgeon and FBR’s late chairman, Dr. Michael E. DeBakey, the awards recognize outstanding journalism highlighting recent medical discoveries and scientific breakthroughs that includes the humane and responsible use of animal models. An awards dinner to honor the winners will be held on Tuesday, September 8 in Washington, DC.

The 2014-15 Michael E. DeBakey Journalism Award winners are:

NABR congratulates this year’s winners and applauds them for their attention to covering the importance of lifesaving and life-improving animal research.

Standing Tall Against Animal Rights’ Challenges to Research in the U.K.

Most of NABR’s members are familiar with the history of the animal rights movement here in America.  But how much do you know about their activities abroad, specifically in the United Kingdom?  How much do you know about those standing in support of animal research?

Speaking of Research, a pro-research blog, recently published a posting called, “Pro-Test: Tackling Animal Rights in the UK,” highlighting important events in the U.K.  It is important to understand the animal rights movement’s approach to animal research from an international perspective because, as the story points out, the U.K. has been a hotbed for activists since the 1970’s.  Having endured threats, violence, and intimidation, researchers there had been apprehensive about vocalizing the importance of their lifesaving and life-improving work.  They rose up and marched, in greater number than their detractors, showing the world their pride for their noble cause.  They spoke out in the media, snatching the headlines and public support from their opponents.  They worked to get political leaders, like then Prime Minister Tony Blair, on-record endorsing the importance of animal models.

These researchers are a shining example of how to effectively stand for the importance of ethical and humane animal research.  To read more about the community supporting animal research in the U.K., please click here.

Monkeys Influential in Regenerating Lost Limbs

This morning, covered an interesting development in the research to develop regenerated limbs.  Thanks to animal research, science may be one step closer.

Researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston are spearheading efforts to make limbs that can be transplanted in humans.  According to CNN, it is estimated that almost 185,000 amputations occur each year in America and that 2 million people are living with the loss of a limb.  Rodent and primate models have been important to the work at MGH to develop cells and structures to create a fully-functioning limb that would not be rejected by the body’s immune system.

To read CNN’s report and learn more about this breakthrough research, please click here.

Man’s Best Friend Helping Research for Kids with Spina Bifida

About four children are born every day in the United States with spina bifida, a birth defect where the baby’s backbone and its surrounding membranes fail to develop properly.  Thanks to animal research and the efforts of researchers at the University of California Davis and the University of Iowa, science has learned one more clue about the cause of spina bifida.

Through the use of dogs, specifically Weimaraners, these researchers identified the gene they believe is a risk factor for spina bifida.  The gene was identified in four Weimaraners with spinal dysraphism, a disorder causing impairment of motor skills and partial paralysis of the legs.  This gene could not be located in other dog breeds but a similar mutation was found in 149 people with spina bifida.

In the online journal PLOS Genetics, the researchers noted about the study, “Dogs are excellent biomedical models for humans since they receive comparable medical care, share our home environment and develop naturally occurring diseases comparable to those in humans.”

To read more about this step forward in spina bifida research, please click here.

New Ebola Vaccine Showing Promise in Monkeys

Late last week, the Los Angeles Times reported that researchers at the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) are working on a vaccine that has shown to protect macaques from infection from the Ebola virus within seven days.

Known as VSV-EBOV or rVSV-ZEBOV, the vaccine is the same one that was also reported by the LA Times to be effective in human trials in Guinea.  Andrea Marzi, coauthor of the study published in Science, told the newspaper that the next objective of the study was to observe whether the vaccine could work as a treatment for Ebola after exposure to the virus.

To learn more about the study, please read the report in Science and the LA Times’ coverage of the discovery.

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