Category Archives: NEWS

Missing Mice

There are a number of problems with scientific publications.  Some of which are avoidable, others are not.  Some are well-documented, others still remain veiled.  Some have the potential to significantly damage a study’s validity, while others may simply question it.  Sometimes a single flaw in the process can encompass many of these at once.

Last month Nature News posted an article on their website titled Missing Mice: Gaps in the data plague animal research.  The tagline, ‘reports of hundreds of biomedical experiments lack essential information’ outlines the increasingly evident failings in scientific publications of not documenting crucial study components.  While not the first to raise awareness of such short-comings, the Nature article focuses on two separate studies that reinforce this growing awareness.

The first study from the Charité Medical University in Berlin review 522 rodent-based experiments from 100 paper from 2000-2013, discovering that two thirds of them displayed a drop in the numbers of animals used between the methods and results sections.  Sometimes dropping one or several test subjects, for valid and noted reasons, is part of the scientific process.  However, in the experiments investigated, only 14 explained why.  This suggests potentially misleading results, or poor experimental protocol.  Additionally, it could also point to intentional or unintentional reporting biases, wherein individual results that would have confound the desired overall results were cast aside. Further analysis has showed that the relative statistical severity of removing selected data points from studies could affect the overall results by as much as 175%.

How many publications, especially those that are heavily cited, have discrepancies between the initial n value proposed and the actual number used in the final conclusions?  It would be seemingly straightforward to justify the use of few dozen or hundred mice for a study, then break that number up into treatment groups over several runs, subsequently removing data points here and there as and when they disagreed with the sought after result.  How many casual, or even invested readers for that matter, would go back and double check that all the numbers add up to the initial amount?

The second study examined whether 268 randomly selected biomedical papers provided full data as well as sufficient detail to replicate the work.  The Stanford-lead study discovered that none supplied full data and only one provided information adequate enough to reproduce the experiment.  Beyond this, it was stated that in 2014 33% of papers included conflict-of-interest statements, compared to 10% in 2000.

These findings are considerably discouraging.  Of course, they both reflect relatively small sample sizes, yet provide important insights into areas of scientific reporting that many take for granted.  The investigations carried out are part of a larger meta-analysis looking to address and identify the most common and problematic fallacies in scientific publications.  An immense task to uncover all the past inaccuracies, but incredibly valuable to avoid any future ones.  The ultimate risk to proper scientific output from practices like the ones discovered by these studies cannot be underestimated nor disregarded.  The immediate hope is that through widespread awareness across all areas of research of the potential complications and/or biases such activities can produce a fresh start, in sorts, can begin.  Naturally, not all of the reporting and methodological inaccuracies are intentional or malicious; yet increased universal understanding and appreciation of the implications of the issues related to them should hopefully lead to their reduction and a growth in more reliable and improved research.

Open Trials

Open Trials is a project led by Bad Science author Ben Goldacre that aims to form a complete collection of every clinical trial conducted around the world. A clinical trial is when a new medicine is tested in humans for the first time. The results from these trials are used to decide how well the medicine works and how safe it is. Currently, not all clinical trial results are published, especially when the findings are negative. This can have dangerous consequences on patient safety as medicine regulators and doctors may not be fully aware of a medicine’s effects. Therefore Open Trials is an important project.

However, before medicines are tested in humans for the first time, they are required to undergo pre-clinical tests in various species of non-human animals. These tests are required to show that the medicines are safe and effective in animal models before they are allowed to be tested in humans. However, the usefulness of these animal studies has been questioned because of the inherent biological differences between species. The results from animal studies are often very different from the results in humans, meaning that ineffective or unsafe medicines are given to humans in clinical trials. Conversely, potentially good medicines are rejected before they get to be trialed in humans because of poor results in animals.

What if we had an Open Trials–like project for pre-clinical animal studies, so that every animal study was recorded and all the results were openly available for others to review?

Here are some of the potential advantages of such a project:
– Overcoming issues such as publication bias. This occurs because studies with positive findings are more likely to be published leading to an unrepresentative and often misleading view of research that has been conducted.
– All data is given to regulators, so they can make a fully informed decision about whether a new medicine is allowed to be tested in humans.
– Finding out how useful and predictive the animal models are for human diseases and treatments.
– Reducing animal use by preventing duplication of animal studies, particularly ones with negative findings. If a study finds that a drug doesn’t work in mice, the results are unlikely to be published. Therefore other researchers might test the same drug again, without realising that it has already been proven ineffective.
Overall, more open reporting of all data can only be a good thing for science. Open trials is fantastic step forward, but more can be done for other types of experiments. This openness would be particularly valuable with animal studies due to the considerable ethical costs of the research.

The choice of procedures

Michael Balls

The scientifically-justifiable choice of procedure
is a crucial issue in animal experimentation,
in the interests of both humanity and efficiency

In the opening of their chapter on Reduction and Strategy in Research in The Principles of  Humane Experimental Technique,1 Russell and Burch pointed out that “one general way in which great reduction can occur is by the right choice of strategies in the planning and performance of whole lines of research”.

They referred to the way Charles Hume had put it “in a searching essay”,2 that is, that “the central problem is that of choosing between trial and error on a grand scale and deductively inspired research”. The second type of choice can “take the form of testing deductions from well and consciously formulated hypotheses, or it may involve working from hunches — really the same thing, for where hunches are of any value, they are found to be based on equally precise hypotheses”. They said that the essence of the strategy “is that particular experiments are selected on some basis … from a larger set of experiments that  could have been performed”, and, as Hume had pointed out, “insighted” research “must be vastly less wasteful of animals”, where animals are to be used in the experiments.

I discussed this in an earlier comment on the Wisdom of Russell and Burch in relation to Reduction,3 with particular reference to experimental design and statistical analysis, but I now want to consider their discussion on The Choice of Procedures, in their chapter on Refinement.

Russell and Burch said that almost any research question “can always be answered in principle by a number of different procedures”, and the mark of distinction of “the great experimenter is the knack of choosing the most rapid, elegant and simple one”. But they then ask whether there are any simple rules in this context. One “general principle, important for both humanity and efficiency, is that of avoiding elaborate and roundabout methods”. Another rule is “the very careful formulation of questions”. One approach is to “first ask the question, then draw up, at least mentally, a list of procedures by which it could be answered”. If the list is long enough, consideration can be given to choosing the best procedure. If the list is too short, the question may need to be reformulated, to permit a wider range of procedural choice.

The greater the experimenter, in terms of ability and quality, the easier and better will be the choice of procedure. In addition, the humane experimenter will be careful to take account of Hume’s point about the wastage of animals, and Russell and Burch’s emphasis on the need for humanity and efficiency. This should be obvious, in terms of the use of resources, even if it were not a requirement of the laws under which animal experimentation is now permitted. It is a vital aspect of the education and training which must be regarded as essential for all those who are to undertake research, particularly if there is any risk of causing animal suffering, but also in the interests of the humans for whose benefit the research is being conducted.

It is encouraging that, in its response to the European Citizens’ Stop Vivisection Initiative,4,5 the European Commission has proposed four actions, one of which is to “analyse technologies, information sources and networks from all relevant sectors with potential impact on the advancement of the Three Rs”, in order to “present by end 2016, an assessment of options to enhance knowledge sharing among all relevant parties. The assessment will consider how  systematically to accelerate knowledge exchange through communication, dissemination, education and training.”

In order to aid researchers in their thought process when designing any project that could involve experimental animals, the FRAME Reduction Steering Committee designed a Strategic Planning Poster.6 The poster, which is available in several languages, guides the scientist through the decision points and steps needed when designing a whole programme of work, including the individual experiments within it. This resource, and the FRAME Training Schools in  Experimental Design and Statistical Analysis,7 encourage researchers to think about how to design their sequence of experiments, in order to minimise the number of animals that are exposed to the most severe procedures and to contemplate whether animals are needed at all.

Professor Michael Balls
c/o FRAME
Russell & Burch House
96–98 North Sherwood Street
Nottingham NG1 4EE
UK
E-mail: michael.balls@btopenworld.com

References
1 Russell, W.M.S. & Burch, R.L. (1959). The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique, xiv + 238pp. London, UK: Methuen.
2 Hume, C.W. (1957). The strategy and tactics of experimentation. The Lancet, 23 November, 1049–1052.
3 Balls, M. (2013). The Wisdom of Russell and Burch. 4. Reduction. ATLA 41, P24–P25.
4 Anon. (2015). Commission Response to the European Citizens’ Initiative “Stop Vivisection”. Brussels, Belgium: Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation
of Animals. Available at: http://www.animalwelfare intergroup.eu/2015/06/05/european-commissiondoesnt- go-far-enough-to-meet-citizens-demands-toimprove-
animal-welfare/ (Accessed 08.07.15).
5 Balls, M. (2015). The European Citizens’ Stop Vivisection Initiative. ATLA 43, 147–150.
6 Gaines Das, R., Fry, D., Preziosi, R. & Hudson, M. (2009). Planning for reduction. ATLA 37, 27–32.
7 Fry, D., Gaines Das, R., Preziosi, R. & Hudson, M. (2010). Planning for refinement and reduction. ALTEX 27, Special Issue, 293–298.

 

The Use of Animals in Experiments — Not Because of Lack of Empathy?

Jolanta Zwolinska

The choice of an individual to use animals in experiments
is influenced by a wide range of social, religious and sometimes
career-driven factors, rather than a lack of empathy

Representatives of various religions and philosophical ideologies frequently make reference to the well known belief that one’s attitude toward the disabled, the sick, old people and children, is a measure of the humanity or moral value of the person. Yet, disputes arise when animals are included into the group of living beings entitled to the same type of consideration. The fact that they are used in scientific experiments is a highly controversial matter, and conflicting views are held by people both within and without the scientific community. This article presents a number of factors which might influence the decision of an individual to stand for or against animal use in experiments, including arguments voiced by representatives of the various sciences, both in support of or against the  continuation of animal experimentation.

Some historical and religious background

The approach adopted by ancient ethicists, in assuming  the dichotomy of human body and soul, resulted in man’s alienation from nature. Aristotle proclaimed a hierarchical structure of the world and the existence of essential differences between humans and animals, the latter being considered as inferior to the former. The intellect, according to that philosopher, was the main determinant of moral values.1 Adopted by the Judeo–Christian and Islamic traditions, the dogma of the immortal soul inherent in humans but not in animals, served to create a vast chasm between mankind and the animal world. Accordingly, Man rules over the world in which animals play an ancillary function.2–4 The cultures of Hinduism and Buddhism are based on the principles of respect for life and the protection of every living creature from suffering. Considered as being similar in their essence to humans, it is dictated in these religions that animals deserve to be protected and treated with reverence.3,5,6

Shaped throughout the ages, our stereotypical opinion of animals has been encoded into our collective consciousness, and cannot be easily overcome by newly emerging social concepts and ideas. For centuries, our attitude toward animals has been based on domination and power.4  In contemporary Christian culture, the majority of ethologists, psychologists and lawyers sympathise with an anthropocentric model of the biosphere, and take a negative stand with regard to animal rights. According to Bialocerkiewicz,5 animal rights reflect our attitude toward life and suffering and our appreciation of the universal principle of humanitarianism. Humans are not entitled to treat nature barbarically — i.e. to kill or mutilate, inflict pain or suffering. Bialocerkiewicz does not find any reason to recognise a unique role of mankind in the grand scheme of things, and emphasises a lack of religious, ethical or economic justification for awarding humans the right to take arbitrary decisions concerning the lives of other species.

The Catholic Church also acknowledges problems related to animal suffering. It speaks for an absolute ban on the mass breeding of animals and for the abandonment of procedures of animal testing used for cosmetics and various types of stimulants.7 According to Kozuchowski,8 a priest, it is our respect for ourselves and our claim to be perceived as more evolved beings that forbid us to treat animals as ordinary objects. A negative attitude toward animals is inevitably linked with a negative attitude toward other human beings.

The concept of ‘animal rights’ and morality

Cohen believes that rights result from contracts which are binding between members of a given community, and that rights, unavoidably, have inherently associated duties. Animals cannot undertake such obligations, and therefore they are not entitled to any rights in this sense (as cited in Mukerjee6). Guzek9 also points to the relativity of the concept of ‘animal rights’. He emphasises that rights can only be awarded to members of communities which are able to comply with commonly recognised ethical norms, so animals are not eligible to have such rights. Guzek believes that extremist activists of ‘animal right movements’ expect that animal rights should be similar
to, or identical to, human rights. Yet, evidence derived from observations shows that, whenever there is a conflict between animal rights and human interests, the latter always win. In Guzek’s opinion, human and animal rights are not, and cannot be, equal.9 Mukerjee, however, points out that children and mentally ill individuals cannot assume any obligations, nor do they comply with any norms, and yet they are not deprived of rights.6
According to Kotowska,4 the protection awarded to animals by the legal system of a given community depends on the attitude generally adopted by its members toward animals. If animals are treated as objects by the majority, then they will also be treated as objects by the adopted customary law, because there would, of course, be no one in such community to protest in their defence.
Many contemporary philosophers are reluctant to admit that it is pointless to extend our system of morality to include animals, opposing the claim that animal research does not constitute a moral problem. They emphasise the fact that speciesism is the cause of cruelty committed by man toward laboratory animals. Other philosophers take a less radical approach, accepting only some methods of animal use, and expressing favourable opinions about the banning of the most abusive research methods.6 Frey, a philosopher, emphasised that he was not an antivivisectionist, but that he accepted only those experiments with animals which yielded significant benefits and could also be conducted with human subjects.10 Singer, author of Animal Liberation,11 recognised by publicists as “the bible of the animal liberation movement”, believes that animal experimentation is acceptable only in the case of trial tests for life-saving drugs.

A contradiction in definition

The contradiction in the fact that people use animals as experimental models to acquire information pertaining to humans, and yet they refuse to acknowledge that animals have qualities recognised as human, is noted by Pisula.12 According to Griffin,13 the belief that no animal is capable of suffering or worthy of sympathy cannot be supported by any contemporary scientific evidence, and Spaemann14 emphasises that animals are not able to give meaning to, or control, their suffering. They are, indeed, doomed to suffer, in that it is particularly hard to endure, if they cannot respond to it with aggression or by escape. As a result of scientific progress, it is more and more difficult to justify the claim about the uniqueness of our species. Birmelin and Arzt, in their book, entitled Haben Tiere ein Bewusstsein [Do Animals Have Consciousness?],15 wrote: “…in terms of their mentality and emotions animals are more similar to us than we used to believe…”. What differs between us and animals, however, is not these qualities per se, but their intensity. Animals use senses which have become blunted in human beings. After long-term observations of social behaviour in elephants, zoologists assume that certain forms of morality and selfawareness may occur in more-highly evolved animals.16 Today, we also know that primates are able to experience emotions such as anger, fear, boredom, longing and loneliness.6

Opinions at the laboratory bench

It was emphasised by Mukerjee that scientists often decide to use animals, only if they are convinced that this is the only way to help people, and that sympathy for animals frequently affects this deliberation. Researchers try to reconcile the dictates of science with a humane approach — in fact, many of them love animals and volunteer to work for their benefit.6 Szyszko believes, however, that the choice of research method does not depend on sympathy for animals, or the need to acquire knowledge necessary for saving human health and life. Instead, it is proposed that senior academic staff members might sometimes encourage younger researchers to conduct animal experimentation, in order to contribute to the scientific accomplishments of the given institution.
As a result, animal experimentation is conducted all too often, and its purpose is not always justified by the needs of science. According to Szyszko, many higher-order animals suffer and die needlessly, frequently only to fulfil the excessive ambitions of young academics.17 In addition, Bialocerkiewicz highlights the fact that, in order to advance their careers and scientific outputs, some researchers are ready to carry out even the cruellest experiments, and gives an example of Baltimore, a physiologist awarded the Nobel Prize, who does not believe that “animal testing poses any moral problems”.5 As a result of such explicit approval by high-profile individuals, animals used in research can become perceived to be merely instruments — i.e. objects which can be exposed to any manner of tests.18 We see this in the fact that animals are often referred to as “experimental models”, “bioreactors”, or “source of replacement parts”, and this inevitably reinforces that idea that they have no rights and that they can be readily exposed to suffering and extermination.19 Feinberg insists that animals should not be treated as objects, although undoubtedly, they cannot be perceived in the same category as humans.20

Conclusion

Mukerjee points out that we are all morally responsible for the appropriately humane treatment of animals.6 The choice of an individual to use animals in experiments is influenced by a wide range of social, religious and sometimes career-driven factors, rather than a lack of empathy on the part of the researcher. Indeed, it is commendable that sensitivity to human pain and suffering defines the course of action for people professionally involved in medicine. What must be emphasised is that this sensitivity should be manifested as empathy for beings which are weaker and subordinate to humans, and the right choices should be made accordingly.
We should not make people suffer for the sake of animal welfare, but we also should not sentence animals to terrible suffering which leads to questionable benefits for people, not least in terms of the scientific validity of the results obtained. Due to progress in science, it is more and more difficult to justify the claim about uniqueness of our species, and being human is not only a privilege, but also an obligation to the creatures with which we share the Earth.

Jolanta Zwolińska
Faculty of Medicine
University of Rzeszów
Rzeszów
Poland
E-mail: jolantazwolinska@op.pl

References

1 Serpell, J. (1996). In the Company of Animals: A Study of Human–Animal Relationships, 2nd revised edition, 316pp. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
2 Tatarkiewicz, W. (2004). History of Philosophy, 21st edn, 376pp. Warsaw, Poland: PWN.
3 Lejman, J. (2006). Animal ethics in the light of the idea of sustainable development. Problemy Ekorozwoju 1, 99–105.
4 Kotowska, M. (2011). Selected aspects of animal protection
according to criminal law. National and international perspectives. In Criminology of Contemporary Ecological Threats (ed. M. Kotowska & W.Pływaczewski), pp. 94–105. Olsztyn, Poland: Katedra Kryminologii i Polityki Kryminalnej, Uniwersytet Warmińsko-Mazurski.
5 Białocerkiewicz, J. (2005). Legal status of animals. Animal rights or legal protection of animals, 319pp. Toruń, Poland: Dom Organizatora.
6 Mukerjee, M. (1997). Trends in animal research. Świat Nauki 4, 68–76.
7 Krenzer, F. (2004). Morgen wird man wieder glauber. [You will believe again tomorrow. A Catholic faith information book.], 41st edn, 380pp. Limburg, Germany: Lahn-Verlag.
8 Kożuchowski, J. (2011). Ethical responsibilities of man toward the world of animals. Robert Spaemann’s Vision. Studia Ecologiae et Bioethicae UKSW 9, 29–48.
9 Guzek, J.W. (2005). Outline of Human Pathophysiology, 699pp. Warsaw, Poland: PZWL.
10 Frey, R.G. (1983). Vivisection, morals and medicine. Journal of Medical Ethics 9, 95–104.
11 Singer, P. (1995). Animal Liberation, 368pp. London, UK: Pimlico.
12 Pisula, W. (2001). Introduction to the monograph. In
Animal Minds
(ed. D.R. Griffin), pp. 16–17. Chicago, IL, USA: University of Chicago Press.
13 Griffin, D.R. (2004). Animal Minds, 320pp. Chicago, IL, USA: University of Chicago Press.
14 Spaemann, R. (2001). Grenzen: Zur Ethischen Dimension des Handelns [Borders: On the Ethical Dimension of Actions], 427pp. Stuttgart, Germany: Klett-Cotta.
15 Arzt, V. & Birmelin, I. (2001). Haben Tiere ein Bewusstsein [Do Animals Have Consciousness?], 279pp. Warsaw, Poland: Bertelsmann Media.
16 Vetulani, J. (2014). Bright prospects for thinking. Interview conducted by Rafał Romanowski, Żyjmydłużej 2, 10–13.
17 Szyszko, S. (2005). Epitaph for a dog (a few comments on ‘vivisection’). Przegląd Medyczny Uniwersytetu
Rzeszowskiego
1, 95–98.
18 Kornas, S. (2005). Animal experimentation. In Encyclopedia of Bioethics. Christian Personalism. The voice of the Church (ed. A. Muszal), pp. 128–132. Radom, Poland: Polskie Wydawnictwo Encyklopedyczne.
19 Żukow-Karczewski, M. (2013). Medical experiments and research involving animals. Polska: Wolnemedia.net. Available at: http://wolnemedia.net/historia/eksperymenty-i-doswiadczenia-medyczne-nazwierzetach/ (Accessed 21.05.13).
20 Feinberg, J. (1978). Human duties and animal rights. In On the Fifth Day: Animal Rights and Human Ethics (ed. R. Knowles Morris, R. & M.W. Fox), pp. 11–38. Lancaster, UK: Gazelle Book Services Ltd.

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Your Comments

PiLAS welcomes your feedback, which can be submitted through the comments button on the right of your screen.

From:  David Dewhurst University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
In response to: Re Dewhurst & Ward (2014). The Virtual Pharmacology Lab — A repository of free educational resources to support animal-free pharmacology teaching. ATLA 42, P4–P8.
This is NOT free; each CAL package costs £250 for each practical. I am currently looking into replacing my undergrad wet lab practicals that involve a small number of animals per year, with simulated CALs. I cannot find a FREE replacement for such practicals; it would be marvellous if there were such resources and if someone could direct me to them.

About the Virtual Pharmacology Lab (VPL: http:// www.virtualpharmacologylab.com): I think you have misunderstood what the repository is and why it was created. Over the last 25 years, I have worked with physiology and pharmacology colleagues in several universities, to develop a range of computer programs, some of which provide alternatives to practical experiments used in teaching. These programs are described at www.sheffbp.co.uk and, as you point out, sell for £250 each (multiuser educational license). Over the years, one of the frequent comments I receive from users has been that they would like to be able to edit these programs to tailor them to their own teaching needs, by, for example, changing certain drugs, adding new drugs etc. To date, this has not been possible. The VPL is an attempt to give teachers that flexibility. Eleven of the Sheffield BioScience Programs have been disaggregated, and the individual components (learning objects [LOs]) — traces, visuals, text — have been made freely available. Each program, when disaggregated, releases 100–200 LOs. Teachers can use the individual components in any way they wish, adding their own learning objects as necessary. They thus now have two options. They can freely access the LOs from the repository and re-aggregate as they see fit or, if they prefer to use my version of the re-aggregated LOs (i.e. a full CAL package comprising >100 LOs), they can purchase this as described above. The hope is that, as teachers develop their own LOs, they will add these to the repository and make them freely available, too. The PiLAS article is describing the VPL repository and how it was created. I hope this helps to clarify the situation.

 

From:  Catherine Tiplady

Dr Rosemary Elliott’s excellent article (PERSONAL REFLECTIONS ON VETERINARY SCIENCE TRAINING AND THE THREE RS) highlights the long term trauma which some veterinary students/graduates may experience.  It is unacceptable that students are marked on enthusiasm for activities which are extremely upsetting to them and harmful for animals.

There is an urgent need for veterinary educators to consider the human and animal impact of harmful animal use.  Thank you for sharing Dr Elliott’s article with us.

 

From: Ian Ragan, NC3Rs
In a recent PiLAS there is an article by Christiaan Wittevrongel that contains the following passage:

Not long ago, a discussion erupted on the use of animal models in inflammatory disease research.<sup>5 </sup>Researchers stated that animal models were not at all applicable for use in the development of drugs against, for example, type 1 diabetes.
This is because the immune system in animal models differs too much from that of humans. However, researchers are still obliged to show that drugs do work safely in animals, before clinical trials, which may lead to market access, can be started. Researchers acknowledge that there is a big problem in the development of drugs against conditions such as type 1 diabetes, and drugs have been discovered against type 1 diabetes, based on knowledge of the human biological system. The researchers know that these drugs will not work in animals, but they still have to show efficacy in animals before clinical trials can take place. Therefore these drugs might never be available on the market (Bart Roep, personal communication; Labyrinth Radio, Radio 1, 18 February 2013).

This is totally wrong. Regulatory authorities never ask for studies to be conducted in inappropriate animal models and they will accept a sound scientific rational for not conducting efficacy studies when no relevant animal model exists. It is not necessary to show efficacy in an animal model.

As a board member of the NC3Rs I am very supportive of all efforts to stop the needless use of animals and replace their use with better alternatives. Discussion about the inadequacy of animals models of disease is a very healthy trend and one that is increasingly accepted by all sides. However, you will not win arguments based on spurious claims such as these

New Directive Comes into Force in the EU

Directive 2010/63/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2010 on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes, came into force on 9 November 2010, to replace Directive 86/609/EEC. The 27 EU Member States were required to transpose its requirements into their own national legislation, so that they could be implemented by 1 January 2013.

To download a copy of this article as a pdf CLICK HERE.

Your feedback

PiLAS welcomes your feedback, which can be submitted through the comments button on the right of your screen.

 

From:  Catherine Tiplady

Dr Rosemary Elliott’s excellent article (PERSONAL REFLECTIONS ON VETERINARY SCIENCE TRAINING AND THE THREE RS) highlights the long term trauma which some veterinary students/graduates may experience.    It is unacceptable that students are marked on enthusiasm for activities which are extremely upsetting to them and harmful for animals.

There is an urgent need for veterinary educators to consider the human and animal impact of harmful animal use.  Thank you for sharing Dr Elliott’s article with us.

 

From: Ian Ragan, NC3Rs
In a recent PiLAS there is an article by Christiaan Wittevrongel that contains the following passage:

Not long ago, a discussion erupted on the use of animal models in inflammatory disease research.5 Researchers stated that animal models were not at all applicable for use in the development of drugs against, for example, type 1 diabetes.
This is because the immune system in animal models differs too much from that of humans. However, researchers are still obliged to show that drugs do work safely in animals, before clinical trials, which may lead to market access, can be started. Researchers acknowledge that there is a big problem in the development of drugs against conditions such as type 1 diabetes, and drugs have been discovered against type 1 diabetes, based on knowledge of the human biological system. The researchers know that these drugs will not work in animals, but they still have to show efficacy in animals before clinical trials can take place. Therefore these drugs might never be available on the market (Bart Roep, personal communication; Labyrinth Radio, Radio 1, 18 February 2013).

This is totally wrong. Regulatory authorities never ask for studies to be conducted in inappropriate animal models and they will accept a sound scientific rational for not conducting efficacy studies when no relevant animal model exists. It is not necessary to show efficacy in an animal model.

As a board member of the NC3Rs I am very supportive of all efforts to stop the needless use of animals and replace their use with better alternatives. Discussion about the inadequacy of animals models of disease is a very healthy trend and one that is increasingly accepted by all sides. However, you will not win arguments based on spurious claims such as these

From: Melissa
Will PiLAS be indexed in Medline/PubMed? Also it looks like all the articles in PiLAS are just reprint of articles in ATLA–is that going to be typical or is the hopes that different articles will be in PiLAS?
Thanks.
PiLAS Managing Editor:
Yes, the articles will be indexed in Medline/PubMed, as PiLAS is a supplement to the main ATLA. The article page numbers are prefixed with a “P” to indicate their supplementary status. The short articles in PiLAS are to be opinion or discussion-type papers, rather than the more detailed research papers and long reviews featured in the main ATLA. It is hoped that the PiLAS audience will be broader – and that the chance to give us feedback on the PiLAS articles via the Comment button on the new PiLAS website will be welcomed.

From: Mary Finelli
Thank you very much for Catherine Tiplady’s important and disturbing article: ‘Animal Use in Veterinary Education — The Need for a Fourth R: Respect.’ Students displaying such callous disrespect for animals should be purged from veterinary programs rather than graduated to practice on yet more victims. Any staff who expresses such disregard should be removed. Non-animal alternatives should be used in place of live animals, and students should learn by watching compassionate, practicing veterinarians operate.

From: Dolores Bonaparte,
Instituto de Medicina Molecular, Lisboa, Portugal

Welcoming your publication, I would like to suggest that you include RSS Feed capacities on the dedicated webpages so that we may receive word whenever there are new contents. Kind regards and best success for PiLAS.
Editor: Thank you for the suggestion. We’ll look into adding RSS feed to the site.

From: Herman B.W.M.Koeter
I was pleasantly surprised finding the first issue of PiLAS in my mailbox. I very much like the format and the option to comment directly on the articles published. I truly hope this initiative will prove sustainable and successful in the long run and I look forward to future issues with articles which are similarly interesting and challenging to those in this first issue. Congratulations with the initiative.
Volume 1 Issue 1