Primate liberation week targets transportation and animal research

With primate liberation week upon us (see here on facebook) and the soon to be released movie
maximum tolerated dose (see here for trailer) with footage courtesy of BUAV, the activists are preparing to re-ignite the debate about animal testing. For a full schedule of events planned for the primate liberation week go to the SAEN Stop Animal Exploitation Now page here.
Or perhaps your name as a university researcher appears on the list of animal abusers for fellow activists to take note of and get organized? Likewise PETA is getting ready too by claiming victories over airlines such as Fedex, UPS and DHL as you can read in my post here .

According to all creatures .org Remember: The primates who are suffering in laboratories as you read this letter are depending on us to work together to fight for their freedom. We must exercise our rights (free speech, freedom of assembly, etc.) so that we can fight for the recognition of their rights. They have no voice but ours. They have no protection, no hope, unless you act. For every activist that does nothing, more primates suffer and die.
The decision is yours. You have the choice to do nothing, but your decision has consequences for the primates. Your inaction condemns primates to suffering and death. Your hard work can bring their freedom closer. The Mary T. and Frank L. Hoffman Family Foundation should be really proud of hosting such valuable contributors!  

I do wonder what debate they are talking about? Is there a debate when any animal use has to stop?
The debate has turned into calling people targets. As is the case here with Janice E. Grooves a member of an IACUC committee. Or committing arson to 'liberate' animals as Camille Jenkins or Peter Young call it, by destroying property of perfectly legal companies. Supporting such acts that have led perpetrators, rightfully so, to jail.  

On the negotiation is over site, ground carriers are also cited as stopping their activities of transporting primates.

Smash HLS too want a piece of the victory against airlines as is quoted below from their facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/SouthFloridaSmashHLS). The goal however is to shut these companies down, no matter what.
Strategically targeting infrastructure increases our ability to force progressive change. Smash HLS has been involved in stopping 5 local Florida companies from transporting nonhuman primates for use in vivisection. http://www.nature.com/news/lab-animal-flights-squeezed-1.11433

 And for those of you who want to read about joint action take a look at the air souffrance page
http://www.airsouffrance.fr/ . The latest protest in front of an Air France agency in Paris is available on youtube - click here.

I guess it is the end of the year and a good time for donations before the holiday season starts. A good time to remember all of achievements during the year and to make that so needed donation! Who cares about cures, about patients or medical advancement? As long as the money flows in and a few animals are liberated, that is all that matters.


Lost a battle but remember to win the war!

There is no victory in the announcement from PETA against Fedex, UPS and DHL.

Neither is there one as a result of this article in Nature called lab animal flights squeezed.

There is a set back, a battle has been lost. Patients have been silenced again by a radical minority.
But let's take a closer look at what has been written:
neither transporters are big players in the movement of animals. Why?
Well because mail or courier companies do not operate the same way as passenger or cargo airlines. They have sorting facilities that handle small parcels and therefore are not set up to handle live animals. Take a look at the videos below.

They may fly a charter here and there as Fedex does for larger zoo animals for example and as  the passenger carriers do. This kind of work attracts a lot of positive PR for them and the animal is treated with the red carpet, a VIP treatment of sorts.  Carriers involved in the movement of an endangered species, a repopulating effort, a re-introduction into the wild or an animal rescue attract positive support. Ask WWF or the Association of Zoo's and Aquariums, they know the value of the contribution of air carriers. Even PETA acknowledges this fact. So what is this double language? A double standard ? One for the public and one for when the issue suits the goal?

Gone is the cruel cargo, the crammed cages, the inhumane transport conditions, the suffering. Same aircrafts, same transport conditions. Airlines around the world follow identical rules and standards in terms of containers for air transport of live animals. All countries signatories to the Washington Convention known as CITES, accept, recognize these standards and airlines enforce them. But that is not what BUAV or PETA want the public to know. Why would one donate $$ when the facts are not the reality they want the public to believe? 

Remember to stand behind your industry associations and make sure transportation is on their agenda. Communicate achievements, breakthroughs and contributions to medical advancement to the general public, speak out about what it is you do and why. It is the credible way to win the war.



Science, medical progress, animals and YOU

Dear reader,
I am concerned about what is happening in Montreal with pharmaceuticals and their R&D centers. Aren't you?
The latest announcement came from Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) in Laval - 170 jobs lost at their Virology research facility, a well known center of excellence with a focus on translational research.
The 36$million investment was discribed as follows by BI in 2008 at the time of opening

"On behalf of Boehringer Ingelheim, I am proud to be in Laval to mark this historic day within the company as we celebrate this new expansion project," said Christian Boehringer, Chairman of the Shareholders Committee Boehringer Ingelheim.
"The Laval facility has contributed to scientificdiscovery in the area of virology that may not only help patients in Canada,but around the world. This site is expected to make an even greater contribution to the translation of scientific discoveries into drugs which help patients. And that is what Boehringer Ingelheim stands for, research into health areas of unmet need."
As one of the four principal research centers for Boehringer Ingelheim worldwide, the Laval facility focuses on the discovery of new treatments for Hepatitis C and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, which causes AIDS)infection, diseases for which either no vaccine exists or current therapy is unsatisfactory. The new laboratories will allow Boehringer Ingelheim to continue to contribute to and complement its existing product portfolio, which includes HIV treatments VIRAMUNE(R) and APTIVUS(R).

Neither of the diseases mentioned have been cured as far as I know and the quality of the research nor the researchers are at cause for the announced 2013 closure.
So what is happening in the pharmaceutical world? Is research being delocated? Is there no more translational research taking place in Montreal, or is the industry increasingly being prevented from bringing in crucial research animals such as non human primates? In the United Kingdom because of animal rights actions, the situation has deteriorated to such a point that there's no UK based carrier available to transport research animals such as non human primates into the country. Non human primates are critical research models used in the search for cures against both deseases (Hep C and HIV).
I think it is time for the general public to better understand how animal research is linked to medical progress and why we need to have research centers in Montreal, Québec and abroad if we want to continue to be important players in the search for cures and medical advancement.
An initial piece of information can be found here http://www.pro-test.org.uk/MAAR.pdf
What can you do to help?
1/Stand by the pharmaceutical and airline industry and voice your support through associations such as AALAS – American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (www.aalas.org), CALAS—Canadian Association for Laboratory Animal Science (www.calas-acsal.org) ICLAS – International Council for Laboratory Animal Science (www.iclas.org) and other scientific and professional organizations that advocate for both biomedical research and laboratory animal welfare. Ensure that the issue of protecting humane research animal transportation is on their agendas.
2/Ensure that your elected officials appreciate the importance of research centers and animal research. Ask them to look into the problems of delocating research and the declining pool of available airlines for the continued transport of research animals.
3/Inform others as to the humane and judicious nature of animal research, and why it is still needed. Underscore its achievements and the medical progress to which it has contributed. Information and links to resources to get you started are available from Speaking of Research site, and on my Advancing Animal Research blog at http://research4drugdiscovery.blogspot.ca/


Talking of Chimps and hearing of Gerbils!

There is a lot of very useful information to be found via the internet. Of course it depends on where you look for your information.

Back in 2011, comments were filed by FASEB to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service about a petition to list all chimpanzees (captive, US based) as endangered.

I do not intend on arguing here about the status of Pan Troglodytes as being endangered or not, but I do want to show you some of the arguments put forward in the document as to what chimps are used for in research.

Note that according to FASEB at the time of writing there is a breeding moratorium in effect for chimpanzees owned by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Currently, less than a thousand chimpanzees remain in NIH facilities in the U.S., and the number of animals available for research is decreasing by about 3% each year.

If you or a relative happens to suffer from or are afflicted by the below diseases or viruses, you may just want to DO THE RIGHT THING and voice your support towards animal research and that includes those of us that care about wild ape populations too!
FASEB feels that the status of captive chimpanzees should not be changed because this would both eliminate the important research needed to advance the public’s health and severely hamper research that is critical to the conservation of wild great ape populations.
Research involving chimpanzees has been and continues to be important for biomedical and behavioral research that will advance the public’s health. Because chimpanzees are the only animals susceptible to many diseases that afflict humans and share many of the same physiological characteristics, they have been crucial in the study of hepatitis, in the development and safety testing of monoclonal antibody therapies, in investigating other pathogens such as malaria, in the development of bioterrorism countermeasures, and in contributing to the conservation of wild great ape populations. This document will discuss some of the past, present and future needs for chimpanzees in research; identify some of the inaccuracies within the petition to reclassify captive chimpanzees; and provide information about the current status of the United States (U.S.) research chimpanzee population.
Chimpanzees are the only animals other than humans susceptible to all five hepatitis viruses: A, B, C, D, and E [1]. It is well-documented that research on chimps led to the development of diagnostic tests for hepatitis A, B, and C and vaccines for both A and B [2-4]. Because of these diagnostic tests, the spread of these diseases through blood transfusion has virtually been eliminated. Due to the development of vaccines, hepatitis B is now nearly unknown in children born in the U.S., and hepatitis A rates in the U.S. have declined by 92% since the vaccine was introduced in 1995 [5, 6]. A 1997 National
Academy of Sciences report underscored the importance of the chimpanzee in the development of a vaccine for hepatitis B, concluding that they provided a source of virus and viral antigens and made it possible to evaluate the safety and the effectiveness of candidate vaccines [7].
Current work with chimpanzees continues to teach us a great deal about the immediate antiviral immune responses following hepatitis C infection [8]. These events can be studied in a way that is not possible in acutely infected humans, since human subjects remain asymptomatic directly following exposure to the virus. In addition, some chimpanzees that were infected with the B and C virus 30 years or more ago have developed cirrhosis and liver cancer similar to that seen in chronically infected humans [personal communication, Robert Purcell]. This underscores the importance of chimpanzees in the study of chronic hepatitis C.
One of the most important breakthroughs in finding a cure for hepatitis C has been the development of new antiviral therapies. Almost 200 million people suffer from chronic hepatitis C infection and are at risk for liver failure and liver cancer [9]. Many of the drugs currently in human clinical trials were tested in chimpanzees for safety and efficacy prior to their use in humans [personal communication, Robert Lanford]. The long awaited therapeutic validation of antisense technology came from a novel therapy for hepatitis C first tested in chimpanzees [personal communication, Robert Lanford]. Antisense technology is a therapy that inactivates genes responsible for disease. This same technology can now be applied to many other diseases, including cancer. Despite these successes, a vaccine to combat hepatitis C has yet to be developed, in part due to the complex nature of this particular virus and the large number of strains presents in different regions of the globe.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 17,000 Americans are newly infected with the hepatitis C virus each year [9], and liver cancer due to chronic hepatitis C infection is now the most rapidly increasing cause of cancer death in the U.S. Current predictions suggest that the incidence of liver cancer (due primarily to chronic hepatitis C infection) will increase by four-fold over the next 10-20 years. A 2010 Institute of Medicine report on hepatitis and liver cancer concluded that studies to develop a vaccine to prevent chronic hepatitis C virus infections should continue [10]. Chimpanzee research will be essential in moving this work forward.
Monoclonal Antibodies 
Chimpanzees are of great importance in developing and testing monoclonal antibody therapies for autoimmune diseases and cancers such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma because their receptors and their cytokine profiles are virtually identical to humans [11-19]. These similarities make chimpanzees especially important for testing the safety of monoclonal antibodies [17].
The importance of this can perhaps best be underscored in the case of the TGN1412 monoclonal antibody [20]. This is a targeted humanized monoclonal antibody that was developed in Germany to treat multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and certain cancers. However, it nearly killed six men who voluntarily took the therapy during a 2006 Phase I clinical trial in the United Kingdom. Administration of the antibody evoked a cytokine storm that caused multi-organ failure in all six participants. This occurred despite the fact that the company and the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency deemed the product safe for human trials after testing in both rabbits and monkeys produced no harmful effects. However, it was not tested in the chimpanzee. Had the chimpanzee model been used, this life-threatening outcome might have been averted since the chimp and human immune systems are extremely similar [17, 21].

Other diseases
The scientific justification for the continued use of chimps is not limited to their value in hepatitis research and monoclonal antibody development. Despite the small number of publications on chimpanzees (0.25% of research utilizing animals), they are crucial in understanding disease progression, analyzing genetic similarities between chimps and humans, developing pharmaceutics, testing the safety and efficacy of pharmaceuticals, and understanding behavior (Figure 1). Chimpanzees have been and continue to be essential in studying the diseases listed below.

Malaria is a parasitic infection that affects an estimated 190-311 million people a year with 700,000-1,000,000 deaths. Chimpanzees have been important for the development of in vitro assays for drug development [22], phylogenetic analyses [23], and vaccine development [24, 25].

Chimpanzees have been shown to be an excellent model for the study of and vaccine development for noroviruses [26]. Noroviruses are the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis in humans.

Chimpanzees were instrumental in the study of and vaccine development for poliovirus [27-29]. Since development of the vaccine, polio has nearly been eradicated in humans.

Respiratory syncitial virus
Due to their genetic similarity to humans, chimpanzees have been and continue to be a useful mode for the study of respiratory syncitial virus (RSV) and vaccine development [30, 31]. RSV is a common respiratory virus that can cause severe and sometimes fatal infections in infants and the elderly.

The chimpanzee has the closest cytomegalovirus (CMV) variant to the human, thus making it an important animal model [32, 33]. Human CMV is the most significant viral cause of birth defects in industrialized nations and produces high morbidity and mortality rates in immunocompromised individuals.

Dengue fever
Due to changes in the earth’s climate, dengue fever, which was primarily restricted to tropical and subtropical regions, is now expanding into regions within the U.S. Between 2000 and 2007, reported cases of dengue fever within the U.S. have tripled, and there is currently no vaccine available to prevent it or therapy to treat it. Chimpanzees infected with the dengue virus develop high concentrations of neutralizing anti-viral antibodies [34], and since chimpanzee immunoglobulins are close to 98% homologous to those of humans [19], they make a good source of monoclonal antibodies [35] that could potentially be used to treat the disease.

Bioterrorism countermeasures
Research involving chimpanzees could also be vital for the development of countermeasures against bioterrorism attacks. An October 2011 "Bio-Response Report Card" by the bipartisan Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism Research Center indicated that the U. S. is unprepared to respond to a global outbreak of a deadly virus for which we have no medical countermeasures [36]. The U.S. was given an F (fails to meet expectations) on medical countermeasure development and production for a global, contagious biological event. In an emergency, rapid access to a research population of chimpanzees could be needed in order to quickly develop and test prophylactic and therapeutic strategies against these dangerous agents to ensure the safety of our population.
The use of chimpanzees in biosecurity preparedness is evident in two recent publications. Chen and colleagues at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease used chimpanzees to develop neutralizing antibodies against the vaccinia virus (smallpox) [37, 38]. These chimpanzee studies were important because they provided a mechanism to create immediate passive immunity should we be attacked using smallpox as a biological weapon.

Research for wild ape populations
Chimpanzees are susceptible to many of the same pathogens as humans, including the common cold, pneumonia, poliomyelitis, tuberculosis, chicken pox, respiratory disease, and influenza among others. As such, they are useful models to study the pathogenesis of the diseases and potential therapeutics. Moreover, due to increased ecotourism in Africa, the likelihood of humans transmitting diseases to the wild ape populations is escalating [39]. Continued biomedical research will not only benefit humans but also conservation efforts to sustain the great ape population.

In February 2011, researchers at the New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana began a safety study on chimpanzees in order to test an Ebola vaccine for wild gorillas and chimpanzees [40]. The researchers inoculated six chimpanzees and were able to establish that the Ebola vaccine elicits a strong immune response. The urgency of these studies is highlighted by the fact that Ebola is ravaging the great ape population in the wild and has killed about one-third of all gorillas [41-43]. The first controlled vaccine trial on wild apes began in April 2011 [44].

Heart disease
Heart disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the human and chimpanzee population. Sudden cardiac death has been shown to be the predominant cause of death in captive chimpanzee populations [45, 46]. Lammey and colleagues have implanted electrocardiogram recorder to investigate and diagnose cardiac arrhythmias in unanesthetized chimpanzees and have identified biomarkers to detect cardiovascular and renal disease in chimpanzees [45, 47].

Immunodeficiency viruses
Until recently, it was thought that SIVcpz, the immediate precursor to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), was not pathogenic (i.e., did not cause death) in chimpanzees. Of late, however, it has been demonstrated that wild chimpanzee populations have been dying as a result of infection with this virus [48-50]. Previous research using the chimpanzee as a model for HIV may be beneficial in understanding the pathogenesis of SIVcpz and developing therapeutics.

To read the text in full and find the references follow this link.

Of course if you do not believe animal research leads to medical advancement for humans and or other animal species, the following may not be of interest to you either.
However for those of us to whom it does matter please do take a look at how stem cells are being used to improve hearing using gerbils. A small step but a leap towards getting closer to new or improved therapies. Thank You Marcelo Rivolta et Al !