International Animal Research Association

There are many organizations out there doing an excellent job at explaining why animal research is needed and why it is valuable in medical research.

I do not need to name them here in this blog, they appear in my blog list and in my posts, as well as in my tweets. They provide readers with information one would otherwise not get or perhaps get in a distorted fashion.

Today and since a long time, there is a need to join our common voices and strengths into a new organization. One that will bundle the positive forces and positions into one unique entity that will represent all on an international level.

Increasingly opponents of animal research are gnawing away at the very objectives of animal research which are to further medical progress as an initial pillar prior to conducting research on human beings.

Although necessary many openly and quite vehemently oppose this. Their continued actions take a toll on researchers, institutions and world known faculties. A toll in terms of finances, time and human resources.
Whilst some years ago direct actions and interference were the privileged weapons of action, currently the opposition takes place in our court rooms.

With their deep pockets and a continued flow of unlimited donations, 501C charities (in the US) and similar mechanisms elsewhere across the globe, have the means to disrupt and terminate  our efforts and the many years of supplying the public with a precautionary principle.

This principle in which every single drug, treatment or medical device is understood and tested prior to conducting testing on humans. This safeguard is and shall always remain a prerequisite in modern day health care.
Animal research is also fundamental research. It is exploratory in nature and seeks to explore new ways, means or methods that further our understanding of disease at every level. This aspect of basic research is not always well understood and poses another challenge to the community because by its very nature it is not outcome driven and therefore an easy target ūüéĮ for opponents.

My point is that our efforts toward explaining and educating the public need to continue. They also need to grow. They need to be defended at the international level in order to continue our work and to ensure our voices are heard and are taken into consideration. Not as lobbyists but as an authoritative voice, speaking on behalf of its members.

If we do not do this our opponents will continue to paint the landscape and shape the world in which you will be an accessory of the past. I challenge you all to take on this new endeavour and avail myself to further this initiative to fruition.


Everyone has a story

Everyone has a story. Most of us do, good or bad, it doesn't matter. What matters is if you're healthy enough to tell your story.
Take my brother for example. His brain did not develop properly. His speech is impaired and his life is spent as a three year old. He'll depend on others to do what is right and so do we his family. He does not recognize his condition, so we hope although it is difficult to ascertain this 100%, at least emotionally that is. There are so many thoughts, fears and plenty of other emotions that come with this sad state of affairs that by the end of the day one can only pull oneself together and hope all the others do the same for we are not all burdened equally. Nor are we all equipped to deal with this equally.

DESPITE all, ours is not a sad story. It is just life. There are more difficult ones, even shorter ones. Therefore it is important to count your blessings and to realize how lucky you are to have an ordinary life. I do wish it to be great for you by all means however if you are being dealt a blow, there is always a way to change your perspective. None of us is meant to be eternal. Who would have the time to listen to that story anyhow?

I do find a lot of solace in medical progress and I consider ourselves lucky to live now rather than before. Not only because the home in which my brother lives is such a caring and profoundly human place where all get medical, psychological and social attention from all of the folks around them but also because I see hope. I hear and read about medical progress every day.

My story is not about standing up for animal rights. If you have read me before, you know that. My story is about those who suffer in silence, those who scream in their hospital beds and those who stand besides them, feeling guilty for not knowing how to help or assist. My story is nothing special but yours is for this is your story too. In your life, You too will be confronted with disability, depression, disorder, malfunction if not yourself, a family member, a neighbour or a friend. Then will be the time you recognize these words as if they're yours. Then your story will join mine and the ones of millions of us who value medical research not for the lives taken but for those saved or improved.

What you have to know though is that all the help and assistance we get and we all have been getting from even before our individual births, all of that  is being rejected by people who want to put animal life at the same level as ours. I fail to see and I can not understand this, no matter how much I love animals or nature. They reject the very fabric of modern day society thread after thread and want you to stop using animals period. It is a dangerous philosophical reasoning that perhaps suits some but I would rather spend my time and energy thanking all of you who conduct research, dispense health care, create drugs or cures in order to provide humanity with an everyday life and the dreams that come with it.

Share this story because it is yours too and remember everybody has a story worth listening to.
Thank you.


Regenerate, re-equip, regrow , reengineer

The bio medical field experiences some very exciting times. When it comes to paralysis, organ failure or missing limbs, tissues, there are now distinct promising approaches that will change many lives for the better.

With the use of pluri potent cells it is now possible to  imagine  that malfunctioning systems and organs will be regenerated.
We are now also at the point where paraplegics can regain a sense of touch. They are being re-equiped.
This is really sensational,  a great breakthrough for those affected, for the researchers and for society.
The third approach involves growing organs in host animals for grafting in humans.
 Finaly last but not least there is gene editing as in crispr cas9 which opens up a whole new world of possible animal models as part of our toolkit against disease, disorder and malfunction.
UC Berkeley

These are the new R's of the present future: regenerate,  re-equip, regrow, re-engineer 

In light of these promising directions it is high time that we as a society realize that this progress also builds on the knowledge gained by using animals. Not just in testing but also in basic fundamental research.
The animal part is small but it remains a key towards medical progress. Researchers around the world acknowledge this as do those who attribute Nobel prizes year in year out.

What about you? Some anti animal use organizations want to ✋ stop animal research despite the many advances attained via animal research.
Will you allow this? If not join those who speak for a silent majority and let others know why you think so.


Spread the message for hope You Can

An interesting year 2016. Not only because there is a presidential election in the US and candidates must outline their vision of the future of biomedical research but most certainly also because support towards animal research is increasing on two critical aspects.

Firstly, researchers are doing more to talk about their research and the use of various animal models such as non human primates and why they are critical towards medical progress. As a matter of fact around 400 of them have signed a public letter to endorse the use of non human primates as critical if we are to find cures for neurodegenerative diseases and more. Do take a look at who signed and the research they are involved in. I mean this is huge for those are heavy weight researchers whose opinions are not to be taken lightly. In addition thereto over 20 organizations signed the letter on behalf of their members. They are the major league of research and if these combined can not persuade you of the necessity and value of this work then nothing can or will.
Do remember there are millions of us out there waiting for a cure or a treatment and bio medical research represents hope, a means of making medical progress for humans and animals alike.

Secondly, a direct outcome of this hard work are visible undeniable results. There is a lot of progress. I can't mention all of them there are too many but they are Tangible and impacting the lives of us all. See the image below describing research achievements with non human primates as of the year 2000. On this blog for example there have been over 46000 views and my 25K tweets about research reach a growing and interested audience. One that makes the difference between propaganda and informing the public.

Think of those affected by ebola, malaria, zika-virus or hiv , think of their loved ones enduring the decline, the pains and the void once fallen to the disease. Look at this and say these disabled people, amongst whom my beloved brother, do not deserve a better life? It is not about animals or us, it is about us and animals for we all need medical progress.


Choose what you want to loose or do something about it!

Whilst there is an undeniable success with pro animal research movements there are some serious concerns out there that require further and perhaps even more attention and I will get to them in the final paragraphs of this post. Let's start off with some excellent news.

We have just celebrated the 10 years of existence of Pro-Test, a UK based charity founded by Laurie Pycroft, a high school drop out whose story you can read here in the huffington post and who defended animal research at Oxford at a time when those opposing animal research where dominating the media scene and almost getting away with bringing down what others had taken years to build: bio-medical research . He was 16 years old at the time and has now a masters in Neurosciences and an undergraduate degree in Physiology. A great story and a job well done.

Together with other groups f.e Understanding Animal Research and Speaking of Research now, they have laid the ground work of much of the information that is now available on the net and as crucially, to the media. More importantly this information also became available to those who were targets by animal rights groups thereby constituting a line of defense when time and resources are scarce, not to mention knowledge. Let's face it when your business is being challenged and threatened by massive email campaigns, live demonstrations outside of your offices or even at employee's private homes and in some cases arson and vandalism, there is little one feels able to do other than being overwhelmed. But animal rights movements weren't the only ones that could rally large crowds to demonstrate and soon enough bio medical researchers and Universities got their act together. A larger movement emerged from the shared threat and united research in a way never achieved before, one that included civil society and politicians.

Whilst the UK and to some extent other EU countries felt the brunt of the animal rights movement's rage, anger and violence, the US too would soon fall victim to the insidious tactics and brutal actions of a largely out of control movement. Disguised under the large and ample mantle of those who declare to speak on behalf of animals, activists went after researchers at their homes, voicing threats and resorting to violence and arson. Here too researchers got their act together following the footsteps of their colleagues.

Not soon enough thereafter the US put in place AETA and as you may have read in previous posts, radical animal activists have been convicted and imprisoned for their wrongful acts. Of course these people are now on their own, as their maliciously over-funded 501C movement falls short of offering them a new life since their philosophy remains the same, no animal use whatsoever at whatever price. Those who do not want you to sacrifice animals to human activities, needs or priorities do exactly the same with humans. What an ethical bunch of moralists! That is not even mentioning all of the people out there who are waiting for a cure, a treatment or whatever medical progress possible to make their ordeal less of a burden. Their families too deserve to have a life that isn't spent in hospitals or caring for their loved ones in between painful treatments. That is the hope the animal rights movement wants to take away from us.  Because lets face it without animal research if it weren't for the researchers never-ending quest to rid us of disease and disorder who is going to cure us? Not Peta, not Hsus I can assure you. Long live to CRISPR, let's get rid of paralysis, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Cancer, Huntington's, Parkinson, Alzheimer and whatever we set out to cure, but let us not throw out the baby with the water and continue to count on the many blessings obtained from animal based research.

Now is a good time to make sure you know your politicians including president candidates and where they and their party stand in the need for support towards animal based research. This is no time for bed time politics but real actions that will stop the eternal circle of a movement that can not accept No for an answer. 501CNOMORE or are you going to continue to accept the fact that almost a single air carrier is left willing to accept the transport of non human primates by air? Is that what we want for our society moving forward? Are we ready to loose the benefits that EARA's K. Leech mentions in his article? I don't think so.

copyright Nature America Inc. all rights reserved


Research gives me and many more Hope!

An interesting article on how animal research will help against the zika virus. You know transmitted via mosquitos as is the case for other diseases such as ebola or malaria. Animal research is much decried, rarely appreciated for what it does and mostly largely misunderstood by the general public.
That however does not mean it is useless, cruel or inadequate. You know when some say it, the type of research or results thereof, doesn't translate into human research or isn't applicable in humans they say it has no value. That is a wrong statement for through research we have learned about a disease, a virus or a physiological process or system.  That by itself is worth the endeavor. For some Hope is the only thing left in their fight for life! Let us not take that away too!

Now there is more going on behind the scene. Take a look at this 2008 article by Professor Colin Blakemore who teaches neuroscience at Oxford and Warwick Universities and is the former head of the UK's Medical Research Council. His conclusion speaks for itself: if we are to have any hope of treating such conditions (Alzheimer's, Multiple sclerosis,paralysis and schizophrenia), medical research needs every tool at its disposal. For everyone's sake, that must include animals. Today in 2016 this statement is as valid as it was when the article was written  and it shall remain so for the foreseeable future.
And as he did point out in the article those who oppose the use of animals in research are free to opt out from being dispensed drugs or treatments developed with the use of animals. Although I must say most of us, if vaccinated, have already been saved by animal research! Or as Lord Drayson has said it is time for us the public to ask ourselves the tough question about animal research Do I want those life saving medicines to be available to me, my family and friends? If yes then this research must continue to take place.

Another good read is this message by Hollis Cline President of the US Society for Neuroscience who reminds us the importance of basic research - such as in animal use research- in the drug development process. The eureka moment for drug development starts with a discovery in a lab. But basic research is also curiosity driven and therefore is able to produce unexpected results or greater understanding of biological processes. She warns that without a rich investment in basic research the drug development pipeline starves off.   I fully support her when she says that to accomplish the mission of improving human health we need to find the optimal balance of basic and translational research in the drug development pipeline and that means valuing and understanding every step in the process.
One of these crucial steps is animal testing let us not forget. Let us also take the time to understand its value and let us support it publicly. We all get to benefit from a healthy and well funded drug development pipeline.

I am not here to tell you what you should eat, wear, be sensitive about or not but as a father to two healthy kids and as a brother to a mentally handicapped child, let me tell you that in the light of the above hope I was referring to, it is by far not an exercise in futility to conduct animal research. It is a lifeline for many of us, who after years of giving care or of getting care have not given up the hope to one day see their loved ones, be they family, friends or total strangers cured from disease, disorder or affliction that has changed our and their lives forever. If that means conducting research on animals in an otherwise very regulated manner then you have my public support until the day it is no longer required. So let's make 2016 the year of public support to animal research. There are millions of us out there waiting for cures, a silent majority but not an immune one to the damages done by those opposing animal research. We have our voice and we will use it against you. Oh and if you happen to agree with me, please share this!


2016 Year of public support towards animal research !

This is not a rant nor an emotional reaction. No, what this post is about is how is it possible that research using monkeys,  that has generated results and of which 60 researchers depend on or build from is being stopped as a result of pressure by groups who oppose animal use? You can read the article in question here

According to the American Primatologists Association's Board of Directors it was estimated that terminating Suomi’s studies may affect more than a dozen large-scale projects being conducted by more than 60 researchers in the U.S., Italy, France, the U.K., Germany, and Canada.

As far as I know it is unlikely of the NIH to stop funding projects with such an international reach and impact. After all it are the very citizens of these countries, including the US, that count on the medical progress aimed for by these research efforts that are affected by this decision. So what benefit does the NIH derive from pulling out? I'd say they might even think it is a waste of taxpayers money to stop this research now.

On the other hand from the same article we have official political party representatives that have written to the NIH Director Francis Collins expressing concern about the “scientific and ethical justification” of Suomi’s research and urging him to conduct a bioethics review. Now these people have strong motivation to do so because their jobs and functions depend on voters. It is of course not uncommon for them to do so after all that is what we elect people for, to represent our interests. But are these truly our best interests? Knowing the results of the research and the fact that stopping this research will impact researchers, allied countries in research and their future generations, I would have urged them to continue, now wouldn't I ? One thing is for sure these representatives would never get my vote!

Are we in a situation where people are being manipulated and the public's best interest is being sacrificed or neglected to say the least? It seems to me that the use of monkeys in research is a cornerstone in the strategies used by those groups opposing research using animals. No matter what the benefits are for you or me, they as a group will continue its pressure on NIH to end all research with nonhuman primates. So what is there to discuss or get consensus over? Nothing. The message is loud and clear: they will not stop.

But let us not be fooled by this careless and selfish attitude, instead let us look to the future and emphasize the various scientific initiatives, Brain, HIV, Cancer, optogenetics, cures for paraplegics etc, that are all depending on animals at some point in the process. These animals are there for good reasons: they provide answers, knowledge before we start testing in humans. They are not fail proof certainly but they have repeatedly proven their value and eliminating them all together is a dangerous mistake. Excluding non human primates from this equation is as dangerous. It is is there closeness to us that makes them so valuable. Don't forget though that this research also benefits the animals as a species for the more we know about them the better we are positioned to help in case of need. Think of animal conservation for example or plagues affecting them.

There is so much research going on that is it is impossible to provide you with all the references. What you can do however is to follow #animalresearch on social media such as twitter for example and you will have the opportunity to read scientific articles and establish for yourself whether thee use of animals is warranted or not. If you are still not convinced ask yourself the question would governments allow this kind of activity if there would be no benefit or a marginal one? Think of the vaccines you had as a child, your flu shots, medical and surgical devices, all tested on animals prior to human testing. Would scientists themselves not question their use if the benefits weren't there? Finally ask someone who is threatened by disease or has been cured if the combined efforts of human and animal testing aren't worth their while?

Lastly ask yourself : since when does Peta directly or indirectly decide the fate of crucial research that benefits society now and the next generations? Did you vote for this? I certainly did not and it is time to change this. Let 2016 be the year of public support towards animal research !



Facing the truth about #animalresearch

Back in 2013 Erica Trent wrote an article about animal research and her experience as a MIT student neuroscience.
She tells us how difficult it was for her to do that what was expected of her. Obtain data from a rodent that had to be killed by means of euthanasia. She then realized how much of our current bio medical knowledge came from this emperical data and how this in turn led to medical progress. How many treatments and drugs first started in animal labs and she felt thankfull towards the animals that had been sacrificed. You can read the piece here http://tech.mit.edu/V133/N39/trent.html?comments#comments

It takes courage to do what she did. It takes even more courage to talk about it openly and face the comments, good or bad, from the public.
Every student taking these courses goes through the same struggle, although some a bit more intensely than others, yet all understand that the purpose is not to kill but to save lives.

That doesn't make the sacrifice easier but it does give it perspective. Just as when we prepare ourselves for surgery we know that we will hurt when we wake up and that there is a risk that we may not make it or things dont work out as expected but in the end it is for our good. It is what it takes to heal or cure. We certainly do not yell at the surgeon, nor do we protest at his house or start an e.mail campaign to stop him from hurting us :(!

So why do we allow others to do so against researchers that use animal models? Is this same research not also advancing our knowledge of the animals themselves?

Instead of thanking them for the benefits we now all enjoy, we stand by and let animal rights zealots treat them as garbage. What a shame!  This will not happen in my house I can tell you that much. My children know the hard work it takes to give us cures and treatments.

Talking about zealots, it appears now that the animal rights extremists are starting to smell the coffee and are wondering about their decline. It appears that animal rights isn't natural per Wesley J Smith here in the National Review.

Well it seems after all that we are getting into a good start for 2016!  Let's keep it that way and focus a bit more on donations to those who cure us rather than Peta or Hsus. They have done more damage to animal conservation than they will ever dare to admit, if they ever do. I know because I have worked with Zoo's and Aquaria - they too deserve better.

I want to mention the death of a great man A√Įt Ahmed, may he rest in peace. Algerians from North to South and East to West have lost a great leader. Azul Hocine lahisahel ou que tu sois