Posts Tagged ‘Animal Research’

UK: Research animals ruling overturned

April 24, 2008

A ruling that the Government was failing in its legal duty to ensure the suffering of animals used in laboratory experiments was kept to a minimum has been overturned.

Three judges at the Court of Appeal said a High Court judge’s finding that a Government adviser was “clearly wrong” in a conclusion over the level of pain experienced by marmosets could not stand.

But the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), which originally brought the case after an undercover investigation at Cambridge University, said its main argument over the way the Home Office classifies the seriousness of experiments on animals had been upheld.

The Home Office categorises experiments as either substantial, moderate or mild, which affects whether licences are granted.

BUAV said in a statement that the Home Office should in future have to examine each licence application to properly assess the level of animal suffering.

Click here for the full article.

World Week For Animals In Laboratories

April 22, 2008

From March of next year the testing on animals of ingredients used in lipsticks, deodorants and other cosmetics will largely have become illegal through laws passed under the 1976 European Union, (EU) Cosmetics Directive 76/768/EEC [.pdf]. Since 1986 animal rights groups have observed a week-long annual protest against the use of animals in laboratories. This week is World Week for Animals in Laboratories, (WWAIL).

A global event, WWAIL seeks to educate the public about the scientific, moral, and economic objections to vivisection. It challenges the entrenched view of research industries that animal experimentation is necessary.

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World’s first schizophrenic mouse developed by gene modification

April 18, 2008

From the dawn of medical history, mice have always been a tool, used for the development of medical treatments and understanding of human anatomy. In medical history, mice models have greatly helped medical scientists to study mainly, structure and diseases related to heart, kidney and genes.

Scientists at John Hopkins University in Baltimore have another success in medical history as they bred world’s first schizophrenic or mentally ill mouse.

For the first time we have an animal genetically engineered with a mental illness. It will allow researchers to study the disease and develop treatments.

To develop this mouse, scientists modified its DNA to mimic the gene responsible for schizophrenia. This gene was inserted into the egg cell and then fertilized by using surrogate mothers. Features, such as hyperactivity and depression, similar to those humans with schizophrenia, were detected in mice’s brain.

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Animals and Us, Not So Far Apart

April 14, 2008

Ever since Galileo argued that the sun was the center of the solar system, the idea of Earth as the universal hub has been the classic example of scientific arrogance. It’s certainly a foolproof example of the way humans consider themselves the rule by which everything else should be measured, but when we use it, there’s a sense that we don’t make that kind of mistake anymore. Yet even today scientists are swayed by the notion that humans stand at the center of the biological universe, especially when it comes to what we care about most: our minds.

For years, scientists believed that the parts of the human brain that supported complex thought and language had only recently evolved. The mental life of animals was treated as primitive and utterly distinct from ours. But an explosion in animal research is showing that many components of human thought are shared with other species. Evidence shows that parrots can understand numbers, crows make tools, elephants and hyenas live in complex, rule-governed societies, and chimpanzees make sense of the world in many of the same ways we do. The implication is indisputable: Humans are not unique.

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Emotional ‘Bummer’ Of Cocaine Addiction Mimicked In Rats

March 12, 2008

Cocaine addicts often suffer a downward emotional spiral that is a key to their craving and chronic relapse. While researchers have developed animal models of the reward of cocaine, they have not been able to model this emotional impact, until now.

Regina Carelli and colleagues report experiments with rats in which they have mimicked the negative affect of cocaine addiction and even how it drives greater cocaine use. They said their animal model could enable better understanding of the emotional motivations of cocaine addiction and how to ameliorate them.

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Consider how we interact with animals in the wild, farms, laboratories or our homes

February 29, 2008


The use of animals in research and testing is a controversial issue that arouses strong feelings in many people. The moral acceptability of using animals in experiments – whether in medical or veterinary research, to test the safety of chemicals such as pesticides, or simply to acquire scientific knowledge – is therefore heavily debated.

It is widely acknowledged, including within the law that regulates animal experiments in the UK, that animals are sentient and can have negative experiences, including those of fear and pain. This makes their potential for suffering and their use in experiments a matter of serious concern for the RSPCA. It is also unsurprising that, whilst appalled by the unacceptable activities of extremists, large sectors of the public consistently express their unease regarding this use of animals.

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US to replace animals with robots in toxic chemical tests

February 15, 2008


US regulators have announced plans to reduce the number of animals used to test the safety of everyday chemicals.

Instead of using animals such as rats and mice, scientists will screen suspected toxic chemicals in everything from pesticides to household cleaners using cell cultures and computer models.

According to the Home Office, more than 3.1m experiments in the UK were carried out on animals in 2006. Of these more than 420,000 were done to test the safety of chemicals. According to the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), more than 100 million animals are used annually in experiments in the US, of which 15 million are used in toxicity tests.

The plans to replace animals in the US, announced yesterday in Boston, will see researchers from the national institute of health and the environmental protection agency develop robotic machines to screen the chemicals. They said if successful the robots could test a greater number of chemicals more quickly.

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Humane Society slams blood pressure study on chimps

January 24, 2008
The Humane Society of the United State (HSUS) has come out swinging in its opposition to an experiment conducted on 110 chimps at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The experiment was intended to show the effects of sodium on blood pressure. The Humane Society says the “use of chimpanzees for yet another study on salt was simply unwarranted.”
The amount of evidence that “salt affects blood pressure in humans is vast and has even been cited by the salt industry itself,” says Kathleen Conlee, director of program management for animal research issues at the HSUS. The chimpanzees were fed varying levels of sodium over two years and were knocked down with anesthetics at least twice a year for blood pressure measurements. A similar experiment published in 1995 already showed that increasing salt in a chimpanzee’s diet causes their blood pressure to rise.
“The American Heart Association’s website, which oversees the very journal that printed this study, along with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, all say that to lower blood pressure, people should consume less salt. There was absolutely no scientific need for these animals to undergo this experiment,” Conlee explains…
.“There should not be valuable funds wasted on research involving endangered species to tell us something we all already know,” says Conlee. “The 1,200 chimpanzees remaining in laboratories, some of who have been there for more than 50 years should be provided with permanent sanctuary and spared from this and other experimentation.”
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Happy to take animal organs, unless it’s Spot

January 23, 2008


Researchers in Queensland have found that most people will happily accept cells and tissues from a dog or cat if it means a cure for their disease – but only if the animal is bred expressly for xenotransplantation.

Scientists have long thought people would not accept organs from animals which were usually kept as household pets, or from primates, such as baboons and chimpanzees. But a researcher from the Queensland University of Technology, Peta Cook, found most people were not that fussy.

“It’s fascinating because scientists have always categorised animals by their species, but it seems that individuals are more likely to look at an animal’s purpose,” Ms Cook said.

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Monkey’s Thoughts Propel Robot

January 18, 2008


On Thursday, the 12-pound, 32-inch monkey made a 200-pound, 5-foot humanoid robot walk on a treadmill using only her brain activity.

She was in North Carolina, and the robot was in Japan.

It was the first time that brain signals had been used to make a robot walk, said Dr. Miguel A. L. Nicolelis, a neuroscientist at Duke University whose laboratory designed and carried out the experiment.

In 2003, Dr. Nicolelis’s team proved that monkeys could use their thoughts alone to control a robotic arm for reaching and grasping.

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Now scientists create a sheep that’s 15% human

January 10, 2008


Scientists have created the world’s first human-sheep chimera – which has the body of a sheep and half-human organs.

The sheep have 15 per cent human cells and 85 per cent animal cells – and their evolution brings the prospect of animal organs being transplanted into humans one step closer.

Professor Esmail Zanjani, of the University of Nevada, has spent seven years and £5million perfecting the technique, which involves injecting adult human cells into a sheep’s foetus.

He has already created a sheep liver which has a large proportion of human cells and eventually hopes to precisely match a sheep to a transplant patient, using their own stem cells to create their own flock of sheep.

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Of Gay Sheep, Modern Science and Bad Publicity

January 10, 2008


Dr. Charles Roselli, a researcher at the Oregon Health and Science University, has searched for the past five years for physiological factors that might explain why about 8 percent of rams seek sex exclusively with other rams instead of ewes. The goal, he says, is to understand the fundamental mechanisms of sexual orientation in sheep. Other researchers might some day build on his findings to seek ways to determine which rams are likeliest to breed, he said.

But since last fall, when People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals started a campaign against the research, it has drawn a torrent of outrage from animal rights activists, gay advocates and ordinary citizens around the world — all of it based, Dr. Roselli and colleagues say, on a bizarre misinterpretation of what the work is about.

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New animal-testing alternative shows potential, and Europe set to outlaw cosmetic testing on live animals

January 7, 2008


As pressure rises to eliminate animal testing in the cosmetics industry, a team of researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of California have announced a potential alternative.

The scientists have created the DataChip and MetaChip, which mimic the reaction of the human body and reveal the potential toxicity of chemicals. The biochips also could be used in the development of pharmaceuticals.

“There’s a desperate need in some industries, like cosmetics, to have technologies that can replace animal testing,” said Jonathan Dordick, a professor of biochemistry engineering at RPI.

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Tests of cosmetic products on rabbits and mice will soon be banned after European scientists announced that most experiments can now be carried out using non-animal alternatives.

The switch will spare almost 20,000 rabbits a year and 240,000 mice from a life of misery in the laboratory.

Scientists say the new tests will actually provide a more reliable way of checking the safety of chemicals in everyday products such as makeup and washing-up liquid.

Yesterday, the scientific advisory committee of the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods approved five new tests which make the use of live rabbits and mice unnecessary.

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Another cow post, but this one’s from the UK: Cows with regional accents? Pull the udder one

January 3, 2008


They have one word in their vocabulary and it’s a single syllable at that.

But farmers claim cows appear to ‘moo’ in regional accents, despite their limited conversational skills.

Herds in the West Country have been heard lowing with a distinctive Somerset twang – prompting some to claim the sound is more ‘moo-arr’ than moo.

Brummie accents have been noticed in the Midlands, while Geordie tones abound in Tyne and Wear and there are overtones of Estuary English around the South East.

A similar phenomenon has previously been noticed among wild birds, which twitter in different accents depending on what part of the country they are from.

The difference with the bovine version is that cattle are believed to be picking up their owners’ accents and may even be passing them on to their calves.

Click here for the full article.

What happens when a rat stops dreaming?

January 3, 2008


 What happens when a rat stops dreaming? In 2004, researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison decided to find out. Their method was simple, if a bit devilish. Step 1: Strand a rat in a tub of water. In the center of this tiny sea, allot the creature its own little desert island in the form of an inverted flowerpot. The rat can swim around as much as it pleases, but come nightfall, if it wants any sleep, it has to clamber up and stretch itself across the flowerpot, its belly sagging over the drainage hole.

In this uncomfortable position, the rat is able to rest and eventually fall asleep. But as soon as the animal hits REM sleep, the muscular paralysis that accompanies this stage of vivid dreaming causes its body to slacken. The rat slips through the hole and gets dunked in the water. The surprised rat is then free to crawl back onto the pot, lick the drops off its paws, and go back to sleep—but it won’t get any REM sleep.

Step 2: After several mostly dreamless nights, the creature is subjected to a virtual decathlon of physical ordeals designed to test its survival behaviors. Every rat is born with a set of instinctive reactions to threatening situations. These behaviors don’t have to be learned; they’re natural defenses—useful responses accrued over millennia of rat society.

The dream-deprived rats flubbed each of the tasks. When plopped down in a wide-open field, they did not scurry to the safety of a more sheltered area; instead, they recklessly wandered around exposed areas. When shocked, they paused briefly and then went about their business, rather than freezing in their tracks the way normal rats do. When confronted with a foreign object in their burrow, they did not bury it; instead, they groomed themselves. Had the animals been out in the wild, they would have made easy prey.

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Haven’t had your fill of raven info? Check this out:

January 1, 2008


In the latest issue of Scientific American, Bernd Heinrich and Thomas Bugnyar – scientists based at Vermont University in Canada and St Andrews University in Scotland, respectively – reveal a series of experiments that provides startling backing for the idea that ravens are the brainboxes of the natural world. ‘These birds use logic to solve problems and some of their abilities even surpass those of the great apes,’ they say…

…Many animals, birds and insects are capable of carrying out complex actions: nest-building, for example. However, such creatures are programmed genetically to undertake the different steps involved in such behaviour. Little intelligence is involved. By contrast, ravens have demonstrated that they can work out complex sets of actions, involving no tests or trial and error. This implies that they use logic. ‘The birds acted as if they knew what they were doing,’ the two researchers say in Scientific American. ‘Ravens have the ability to test actions in their minds. That capacity is probably lacking, or present only to a limited extent, in most animals.’

Click here to read the full article.