American Brain Coalition (ABC) Writes to FDA About Importance of Primate Research

The American Brain Coalition (ABC) has sent a letter to U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD about the importance of primate research and concerns about the FDA’s decision to halt primate nicotine studies. The studies could potentially increase researchers’ understanding of nicotine addiction in adolescents. FDA announced the studies would be halted until an investigation is conducted, shortly after receiving a letter from Jane Goodall, PhD, about her presumed concerns about the welfare of the animals and doubts about the necessity of the research.

ABC’s letter reiterates the importance of animal research in helping to understand and treat the 50 million Americans affected by neurological and psychiatric conditions. The letter expresses concern that Goodall may have inaccurately described the care the animals received, and also argues that she does not address why she thinks primates are an improper model for the research. The letter reads, “Dr. Goodall paints an overly broad and quite distorted picture of the legal use of animals in research. ABC hopes that the FDA will take the necessary steps to reject false representations of the use of animals in neuroscience research and confirms its support of life-saving research and the advancement of scientific knowledge.”

ABC's full letter is available here.

Government-Funded Researchers Discover Experimental Cure for Marburg Virus with Monkeys

Last week the National Institutes of Health (NIH) made a remarkable announcement about research into cures for Marburg and Ravn viruses, both relatives of the Ebola virus.

MR191-N, a monoclonal antibody derived from a human Marburg survivor, was administered by NIH-sponsored researchers to rhesus monkeys and guinea pigs and showed 100% effectiveness in curing late-stage, lethal-level infections of these viruses. According to the study two doses of the MR-191-N monoclonal antibody was able to provide 100% protection if given up to 5 days after infection. In contrast, other experimental treatments required daily doses for 7 or 14 days beginning closer to the time of infection.

Marburg and Ravn can resemble Ebola in symptoms and outcomes and medicine needs effective treatment and prophylactic measures. Hopefully these new findings prove effective in filling those voids.

To read more about this groundbreaking discovery, please click here.

Monkeys Leading the Way Towards Development for Paralysis

By now you probably thought you had seen all of the medical accomplishments that have come from important studies with monkeys. But there’s now more to be proud of. The Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) recently covered exciting research with nonhuman primates (NHP) that could help more than 250,000 Americans.

Over 250,000 Americans have suffered from spinal cord injuries (SCI) that have left them with paralysis. With the assistance of monkeys, researchers at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have developed a wireless device that gained movement in their lower limbs. The device, which stimulates muscle movement by connecting nodes and the spinal cord, was developed with rhesus macaque monkeys and built on past findings from rodents. Information gained from these studies will hopefully lead to improved quality of life for people who are paralyzed.

This exciting new development shows promise advances that will allow many to function more independently and experience a better quality of life. To read more, please read FBR’s coverage by clicking here. Spread the word about the importance of monkeys in biomedical research by sharing this story with your friends, family, colleagues, and on social media.

Are Primates Still Important for Medical Progress? The Answer: Yes

Opponents to animal research always ask, “Is research with primates still needed?”  According to Dr. Andrew Jackson of Britain’s Newcastle University’s Institute of Neuroscience in a recent BBC Science & Environment article, primates are still vital for medical research, especially for studies with the brain.

Dr. Jackson has been recently researching the relationship between motion and the brain with rhesus macaque monkeys and a specially designed videogame. The monkeys play the game and when they win, they receive fruit as a reward. All the while, Dr. Jackson studies the monitors to see how neurons react to create the primates’ movement.  He explains that this research could help find ways to restore mobility to people who have suffering from paralysis.  Why a monkey? The research is performed with monkeys, rather than mice because the physiology of a monkey’s brain is much more similar to that of a human.  In addition, mice do not manipulate objects with their front paws like monkeys and people do with their hands.

In the article, an international animal rights group claims that primate research is unnecessary because of the existence of brain neural imaging and computer models, whose data is based of off previous animal studies. As the article notes, soon after publishing arguments in opposition to Dr. Jackson’s study, over six hundred scientists who are actively involved in animal research signed an open letter rejecting those claims.
Those scientists explain that nonhuman primates are very important for medical development and great lengths are taken to ensure their safety and comfort.  Labs come with elaborate enclosures, social groups, and more secluded areas to allow primates to have some time to themselves.  Dr. Jackson concurs that the wellbeing of the animals is very important for the experiments noting that stressed or uncomfortable animals can skew data and make it impossible to perform research.

To read the article, please click here. If you’d like to learn more about the importance of primates in research, please see the resources located on NABR’s website.

FBR President Outlines the Case for Animals in Medical Research in the Chicago Tribune

Frankie Trull, President of the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR), has recently written an engaging op-ed in the Chicago Tribune about the many benefits of using animals for medical research.

In her piece, Trull emphasizes the importance of utilizing non-human primates (NHP) which, while only comprising of less than one percent of the total research performed with animals, accounts for a sizeable impact on medical discovery.  To back up this fact, the article references great strides in medical research, such as the vaccines for polio, mumps, measles, and hepatitis B, which owe their successes to NHP research.  Yet with all of this evidence of the benefits of animal research, some critics posit that computer models are better suited for experiments than animals.  Trull refutes this claim quickly with her example of a recent endeavor to model human brain activity with a computer.  She writes, “In 2014, researchers in Japan attempted to simulate brain activity by using a supercomputer with over 700,000 processor cores.  It took the computers 40 minutes of whirring to effectively replicate what the brain does in one second.” Neurological research would take much longer and may inhibit the development of lifesaving treatments with the use of a computer model alone.  In addition, without animal models, particularly primates, researchers would have to test potentially unsafe medicines on humans, which is highly unethical and illegal.

Though in spite of the perceived controversy surrounding it, non-human primates remain a vital part of biomedical research. To read the op-ed in the Chicago Tribune, please click here, and please share it with your family, friends, colleagues, and on social media.

Research Community Releases Three Resources Lauding the Critical Need for Monkeys

Over the past few weeks the biomedical research community has shared with the public, policymakers, and media three well-written resources emphasizing the vital importance of nonhuman primates (NHP) in life-improving and life-saving research. These three tools highlight the irreplaceable nature of monkeys in the endeavor to better understand, treat and cure a wide array of diseases and conditions including autism, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, Zika virus, HIV/AIDS and Parkinson’s disease.

Along with The Critical Role of Nonhuman Primates in Medical Research, the authoritative white paper written by nine of the nation’s top scientific organizations, two recently released resources thave been published. To supplement the white paper and to further highlight the irreplaceable contributions of primates to medical progress with the lay public, the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) unveiled a colorful, quick and easy-to-read infographic designed to be shared on social media. FBR also produced a concise, full-color brochure illustrating how far medicine has come with the help of monkeys in research. Designed to be visually appealing, it takes both a look into the past and highlights innovative cures and treatments for cancer, HIV/AIDS, Zika virus, fetal development, Alzheimer's disease, organ transplants, and much more. To read the brochure, The Lifesaving Benefits of Primate Research, please click here.

Please print, share, and distribute the white paper, infographic, and brochure via email and social media to help highlight the importance of primates in research.

Over 400 Researchers Sign Letter Supporting Important Research with Primates

In response to animal rights groups’ efforts to downplay the important role of studies involving nonhuman primates (NHP), over 400 researchers and 20 institutions in Europe have signed a letter voicing the necessity of NHP in scientific discovery.

Understanding Animal Research (UAR) coordinated the effort and is still accepting signatures for the next 48 hours. The brief letter spells out the key role of primates in finding cures and treatments for several global health challenges. Importantly, the letter declares the attention to ethics and welfare in all studies requiring NHP models.

To read the letter, please click here. Please feel free to share the letter with your friends, family, colleagues, and on social media to spread the word about the critical role of primates in biomedical research.

Scientific Groups Release White Paper on the Critical Role of Nonhuman Primates in Medical Research

The Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) announced today the release of the white paper, The Critical Role of Nonhuman Primates in Medical Research. The white paper is a collaboration between FBR and eight premier scientific groups: the American Academy of Neurology, the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, the American Physiological Society, the American Society for Microbiology, the American Transplant Foundation, the Endocrine Society, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology and the Society for Neuroscience.

The white paper highlights the essential role NHPs historically have and continue to play in finding treatments for serious and life-altering conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, Zika virus, HIV/AIDS and Parkinson’s disease.

To learn more about how research with NHPs is contributing to lifesaving cures for people, please download the white paper, The Critical Role of Nonhuman Primates in Medical Research or visit fbresearch.org.

The Undeniable Truth: Lab Animals Are Helping Our Pets

You may have already seen a recent blog post by the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) that showcases just one of the many important missions of biomedical research: saving endangered species. From in vitro fertilization to helping stop the spread of disease in the wild, animal research is working to make sure that endangered and threatened species of animals live on for generations to come. But what is animal research and testing doing to help our pets at home? FBR took a closer look at that question in a story posted on their website yesterday.

Vaccines, cancer treatments, and anxiety medications, for example, were developed through animal research and improve the health not only of people, but companion  dogs and cats. Cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs and their tumors are very similar to those found in people. Clinical trials with dogs and cats have yielded valuable data to test the effectiveness of drugs and treatment regimens. In fact, more and more pet owners are enrolling their companions in clinical trials.

But there’s more. Drugs like Prozac developed for people, through studies with rats, mice, and dogs, are effective in alleviating anxiety in dogs. Studied in rodents, pigs, and primates, Rapamycin, the commonly prescribed anti-rejection medication for humans, is now given to dogs for improved heart health. Cats with hyperthyroid disease are treated with radioiodine – a common treatment for human thyroid disease.

Vaccinations are essential in ensuring the future health of both people and animals. Back in 1885, Louis Pasteur developed a rabies vaccine with rabbits. In 1982, researchers studying dogs were able to create the vaccine against canine parvovirus (often referred to as parvo), saving the lives of countless puppies. Vaccine development for animal-specific diseases often offer invaluable information in the hunt to rid the world of human disease, as well. Given the fact that feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is very similar in structure to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), studies in FIV provide insights which could inform the development of an HIV vaccine.

It’s very clear that without animal research scientists and veterinarians would not be armed with the knowledge necessary to improve the health of both wild and companion animals. Please take a moment to read FBR’s latest installment on animal research helping animals and share it with your family, friends, colleagues, and on social media. Feel free to share your thoughts in the blog section on FBR’s site.

Florida Judge Rules Primate Breeding Facility Approvals Did Not Violate Sunshine Law

A Hendry County judge has ruled against an animal rights group suing over the county's handling of monkey breeding farms. The Animal Legal Defense Fund, on behalf of three county residents, filed a lawsuit alleging county officials violated the Florida Sunshine Law by permitting two primate breeding companies to build or expand facilities in its jurisdiction.

Judge James Sloan ruled the county did not violate state open records laws when it met with officials representing the companies. The judge said Sunshine Laws only apply to boards and commissions, not the staff that work for those elected bodies.  “We are pleased with Judge Sloan’s ruling upholding our constant assertions that Hendry County did not violate Florida’s Government in the Sunshine Law. Our legal team is to be commended, especially County Attorney Mark Lapp,” says Charles Chapman, County Administrator. “Hendry County continues to stand by the rights provided to our property owners contained within the language of our comprehensive plan and land development code.”

The case has attracted local media attention.  One report said about 30 spectators, including independent journalist Jane Velez-Mitchell, attended the first day of the bench trail.

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