Are We on the Cusp of Finding an AIDS Vaccine?

With the help of nonhuman primates (NHP), French researchers may be close to answering the nearly 40-year old riddle that is AIDS.

On July 6, AFP reported that scientists had successfully tested the vaccine dubbed HVTN705 or "Imbokodo" in monkeys, shielding them from infection and triggering an immune response. It now moves to the next phase where it will be tested in 2,600 women in southern Africa. The results from the trial are expected in 2021 or 2022.

While we must be cautiously optimistic that Imbokodo will be successful in humans, this represents a great leap forward, thanks to the assistance of NHP models. A Harvard Medical School professor notes in the article that in the nearly 40-year history of AIDS, this is just the fifth vaccine concept to make it to the efficacy stage in people.

The Independent, The Telegraph, Science Alert, and ScienceDaily also featured coverage.

Targeted Professor Pens Letter Defending Her Research

Dr. Tania Roth, the University of Delaware researcher who has recently found herself targeted by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), wrote a piece in Delaware Online standing up for her neuroscience research and the vital role that animals play in medical advancement.

Besides breaking down the legal and regulatory framework she must follow, Roth very astutely notes, “The use of animal models in the research process is pivotal, and provides us with the tools necessary to better study the brain. By understanding basic neuroscience, where scientific knowledge begins, we can discover breakthroughs that will eventually lead to new therapies and offer hope to children and families all around the world.”

Click here to read Roth’s piece, and please take a moment to leave a comment in support of Roth.

NIH Issues RFI on Assessing the Safety of Relocating At-Risk Chimpanzees

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a Request for Information (RFI) on June 11 in the Federal Register titled, “Input on Report from Council of Councils on Assessing the Safety of Relocating At-Risk Chimpanzees.” This RFI stems from the 2015 decision by NIH Director Francis Collins that all NIH-owned chimpanzees should be retired and relocated to the chimpanzee sanctuary, Chimp Haven, in Keithville, LA. However, many of the NIH-owned chimpanzees are of an advanced age and relocation has caused unnecessary stress on several of them. Additionally, there have been an alarming number of deaths of retired chimpanzees after relocation to Chimp Haven during the past several years.

The NIH posted the notice in the Federal Register to inform the research community, and other interested parties, that it has received a report from the Council of Councils Working Group on Assessing the Safety of Relocating At-Risk Chimpanzees. The NIH will consider the recommendations in the report and is inviting the public to comment in response the RFI. This RFI is open for public comment for a period of 60 days and comments must be submitted by August 10, 2018. Comments must be submitted electronically here: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/rfi/rfi.cfm?ID=72.

National Review Provides Positive Coverage of Animal Research and Testing

Research with animal models continues to be critically important for breakthroughs in modern medicine. Yet, it is frequently under assault by recognizable and lesser known animal rights groups who oppose the use of animals in ethical and humane research. Yesterday, the National Review printed a piece that we think you should read, covering the benefits of animal research and explaining why science needs animals for lifesaving and life-improving research.

A recent discovery in gene therapy to repair spinal cord damage in rats was notably highlighted as a prime example how animal research is vital.

Please click here to read yesterday’s National Review piece and feel free to share it with your friends, family, colleagues, and social media.

Positive Change in Public Attitudes on Animal Testing and Research

According to a Gallup Poll released last week, 54% of Americans view medical testing on animals as morally acceptable. While this number still represents a significant decrease from 65% in 2001 when Gallup began tracking responses on this topic, it demonstrates a modest increase from last year’s results of 51%.

Public support is one reason why NABR’s sister organization, the Foundation for Biomedical Research, developed the "Love Animals?" campaign, which is aimed at animal lovers everywhere. Contact info@fbresearch.org for your copy.

FBR President Pens Thought-Provoking Piece in The Washington Times

The Washington Times ran an opinion piece by Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) President Matthew Bailey on Wednesday detailing the discoveries that animal research delivers to both humans and their beloved pets. The piece starts with the story of Dover, a 7-year-old bull mastiff suffering from lymphoma which caused him to go blind. Dover was enrolled in a clinical trial at Tufts University and the results were fantastic. The treatment restored the dog’s sight overnight and currently his cancer is in remission.

Take another example from the University of Pennsylvania, where researchers are working to save dogs with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. Researchers there have developed genetically-modified bacteria that, once injected, enables the dog’s own immune system to attack the tumors. At University of California, Davis they have tested a treatment for heart disease which affects 1 out of 7 cats. UC Davis and Kansas State University have also teamed up to develop an antiviral drug to combat feline infectious peritonitis.

It is important for the research community to showcase stories like these because they illustrate the focus of FBR’s latest campaign, “Love Animals? Support Animal Research”  because animal lovers should be the most ardent supporters of animal research. Animal research not only saves human lives, but also many pets, as well. Forty-three million U.S. households have a dog, thirty-one million have a cat, and ninety percent of those Americans consider their pets part of their family. Unfortunately, our beloved pets suffer from cancer, diabetes, kidney and heart disease, and other ailments, just like their human counterparts. But animal research can provide hope for our furry family members while providing a foundation of scientific data and understanding to treat humans. To read Bailey’s piece click here and be sure to visit www.FBResearch.org to learn more about FBR’s “Love Animals? Support Animal Research” campaign.

Non-Human Primates Critical to Development of New Migraine Medication

The Hill reported on May 17 that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new medication to prevent migraine headaches. The new drug is called erenumab-aooe, trademarked as Aimovig, and is produced by Amgen and Novartis. In trials, Aimovig helped patients experience at least a 50 percent reduction in the total number of days in which they suffered a migraine.

Nonhuman primate (NHP) research was critical to testing the drug’s safety for pregnant woman and their unborn children. The FDA states, “No adverse effects on offspring were observed when pregnant monkeys were administered erenumab-aooe throughout gestation. Serum erenumab-aooe exposures in pregnant monkeys were greater than those in humans at clinical doses.”

Nonhuman primates have been, and will continue to be, critical to medical research. The Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) provides an excellent white paper and brochure on this topic, and we encourage you to read both.

USDA-APHIS Will Not Recognize Third-Party Inspections and Certifications

On May 25, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) released a statement which reads, “it will not establish new criteria for recognizing third-party inspection and certification programs when determining the Agency’s own inspection frequency under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).”

APHIS had announced a series of public listening sessions starting in December of 2017 to hear feedback from the regulated community and others. APHIS also posted a Federal Register notice in January 2018 asking for written comments through March 21. In the end, APHIS received over 35,000 written comments, many of which were submitted by animal rights groups. APHIS asserts the vast majority of comments they received expressed concern with AWA compliance being in jeopardy if third-party inspections were utilized.

APHIS continues to support its risk-based inspection system when determining the frequency of their AWA inspections. You can view the listening session comments here and the Federal Register comments here.

Thanks to Animal Research, Experimental Cancer Treatment Cures Dog

While animal rights groups have squarely targeted the use of canines in research, a May 16 article in the Boston Globe serves as a reminder of similarities between dogs and humans. Man’s best friend shares the same environment as their human counterparts and therefore suffers many of the same ailments and health challenges. That connection could be the key to unlocking treatments and cures for both species.

Consider the story of Drambuie, a golden retriever who was diagnosed with a sarcoma, a type of cancerous tumor which attacks soft tissues. Drambuie’s prognosis was not good, so his owner enrolled him in a clinical trial for a new sarcoma treatment at Tuft’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Cheryl London, a veterinary oncologist, has been testing a new form of immunotherapy, injecting a piece of DNA that allows the dog’s own immune system to destroy the sarcoma.

About one month after the injection, a surgery was scheduled to remove the shrunken tumor from Drambuie, yet none could be found. The immunotherapy had eliminated the tumor.

These types of clinical trials in canines are helping researchers develop the next generation of cancer treatments for humans, proving yet again animal research advances medicine for our furry companions, as well as us.

NIH Working Group Says Chimpanzees Should Not Go to Sanctuary if Their Health Could Be Endangered

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Working Group on Assessing the Safety of Relocating At-Risk Chimpanzees released their report last Friday in which they conclude, “Chimpanzees should be relocated to the federal sanctuary system unless relocation would place the chimpanzee's life, safety, and welfare at extreme risk.” The federal sanctuary system referenced in this report is Chimp Haven in Keithville, LA. NABR has long argued that chimpanzees should not be relocated if their health, safety, or welfare were put at risk by the move. The report goes on to state if there is a disagreement between a research facility and sanctuary, an “independent expert veterinary opinion should be sought to inform the relocation decision.” However, the report included no details about who the independent third party should be nor how impartiality would be determined.

The working group report comes in the wake of revelations that moving elderly or ailing chimpanzees from research facilities to sanctuaries had been adversely affecting their health, and in several cases the move was fatal. Researchers have noted many chimpanzees suffered or died needlessly as a result of transfers to Chimp Haven, as detailed by Speaking of Research. In fact Wired profiled 13 chimpanzees who were moved to the facility in 2014-2015; within 15 months, nine of the chimps had died.

As of March 2018, 232 of the 504 chimpanzees owned by NIH have been moved to the federal sanctuary. Of the remaining chimpanzees that have not been moved, 177 have health issues that would be negatively impacted by relocation. NIH plans to open a 60-day public comment period before NIH Director Francis Collins decides on further chimpanzee relocation. Director Collins ordered an end to NIH funding of chimpanzee research in November 2015.