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Remaining silent about the use of animals in research is a greater risk than speaking out, German audience is told

An event on communication in animal research in Germany this week has called on more scientists to step forward and raise awareness.

Attended by more than 80 members of the biomedical community, a panel of experts from research, animal welfare and the science media came together to discuss the topic, Improving Openness in Animal Research in Germany, at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), in Tübingen. The event was supported by the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) and the Society for Neuroscience (SfN).

Setting the scene, EARA Executive Director, Kirk Leech, said that while progress had been made in Germany on communication there is still a significant reluctance within many academic institutions, and amongst scientists, towards conducting a more open and consistent dialogue with the public.

‘If you are in public research you have to expect that the general public will take an interest in what you do,’ he added.

Expanding on the theme, Nancy Erickson (pictured), qualified vet and animal welfare officer at, Freie Universität Berlin, and a member of animal research awareness group Pro-Test Germany, reminded the audience that: ‘By remaining silent we do create a space for misconceptions about animal research.

‘If you are only communicating in a defensive mode then you are in a difficult situation. When you are proactive you can use the quiet times to build trust with the public.’ Continue reading

EARA voices concerns to UK Parliament on implications of No-deal Brexit

EARA’s Brexit Taskforce has made a submission to the UK Parliament Health and Social Care Committee inquiry concerning the animal science used to develop human and veterinary medicines.

Critical to the continuing success of the biomedical sector will be the timely and efficient import/export transport of purpose-bred research animals, biological samples and vaccines.

The submission also offers concrete proposals for avoiding delays in the movement of animals and related materials.

‘Without the ability to move research animals from one country, or continent, to another, or from a breeder or supplier, to a research institution, crucial scientific research to discover new treatments may be disrupted,’ said Kirk Leech, EARA Executive Director.

Neuroscientists hit back at MEPs statement

The Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) has responded to the recent European Parliament’s Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals statement on the use of animals in neuroscience, which claimed that, ‘Animal testing is inherently uncertain and is a misleading indicator for human trials’.

In its own response statement FENS said: ‘The value of animal-based research for wide-reaching scientific and medical advances, including in neuroscience, cannot be overstated.’

The statement, also backed by EARA, EFPIA, GIRCOR, RSB, TVV and Wellcome, continued: ‘While there is an element of uncertainty in drug-related R&D, the use of animals in neuroscience research has undoubtedly contributed to our ever-improving understanding of the human brain and important advances in the treatment of neurological diseases.’

Italian convictions prompt calls for greater openness

Three Italian animal rights activists convicted of raiding the University of Milan animal labs have received a harsher sentence from the judge following their claim that they were acting on behalf of a ‘higher justice’ for animals.

Judge Vincenzina Greco gave the trio an 18-month sentences for the raid in 2013 (also English translation).

Commenting on the verdict, Giuliano Grignaschi, secretary-general of Research4Life, said: ‘Those who oppose research on animals don’t have the widespread social support they claim.’

Grignaschi and colleagues hope to bring Italian legislation closer in line with public support for biomedical research, by pushing for what he calls ‘a gradual approach’, starting with the publication of at least one webpage with information on the rationale and goals of the research on animals in each institution, the results obtained, and the numbers of animals used.

Nobel Prize awarded for turning the immune system against cancer

This year’s Nobel Prize winners for Physiology or Medicine used animal models to develop their novel cancer therapy.

James P. Allison, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, USA, and Tasuku Honjo, of Kyoto University, Japan, discovered in mice a way of unleashing immune cells to attack tumours by turning off the safeguards in the immune system that prevent it from attacking human tissue.

In turn, new drugs can now be developed offering hope to patients with advanced and previously untreatable cancer. Immune checkpoint therapy is already used to treat people with the most serious form of skin cancer, melanoma.

Cancer kills millions of people each year and is one of humanity’s greatest health challenges. By stimulating the inherent ability of our immune system to attack tumour cells this year’s Nobel Laureates have established an entirely new principle for cancer therapy. Continue reading

Full list of speakers for EARA/FENS free event in Tübingen, Germany

Improving Openness and Animal Research in Germany – Free event, Monday, 22 October, FENS/EARA

The list of speakers for the free satellite event on communication on animal research has now been confirmed.

The event will discuss improving openness on animal research in communications with the general public, political decision makers and opinion formers in Germany.To attend please register here 

EVENT DETAILS  Continue reading

EARA looks ahead with strategic objectives for next five years

EARA has set out the association’s vision and mission and its strategic objectives up until to 2023, following its General Assembly in Munich, Germany.

The Strategic Review looks at the background to EARA’s founding in 2014 and its achievements. The association now has more than 70 member organisations from private and public research as well as professional bodies across 15 countries in Europe.

EARA was founded following recognition of the need to develop, establish and implement proactive communication strategies to improve public understanding and acceptability of animal research, and to help co-ordinate the sector to speak with a unified voice to decision makers in Brussels and with the national advocacy organisations.

Among EARA’s achievements are the forming of formal and informal networks, particularly in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain, engagement with the EU on regulation and consultation, a social media presence in seven languages and support for the supply chain in Europe. Continue reading

Largest robotic surgical training centre in the world opens in Belgium

Orsi Academy, the largest robotically assisted training centre found anywhere in the world has opened its new campus in Melle, Belgium.

The EARA member company trains more than 700 surgeons each year in minimal invasive techniques developed to reduce pain, blood loss and time of recovery in humans after an operation.

Every surgeon starts training on a simulator, then using chicken and dog cadavers and lastly on live pigs that has been anesthetised.

Orsi CEO, Prof. Dr. Alexandre Mottrie said: “Robotic surgery is only at the beginning and it will evolve in the future and we want to be in the middle of this wave.”

The Academy works in close co-operation with the University of Ghent and KU Leuven and also has a structural partnership with Karolinska University Hospital

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Times opinion piece: ‘Mob rule by animal rights activists cannot be allowed to stop research’

A leader column in The Times newspaper has called on governments across the world to require airlines to carry animals used for research.

The newspaper was commenting on an article it ran on the formal complaint to the US Department of Transportation by the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR), which has accused four airlines operating in the USA, of discrimination by refusing to carry animals for use in medical research when the same animals can be carried as pets, farm animals or for zoos.

In its complaint NABR said British Airways, China Southern, Qatar Airways and United Airlines must comply with federal laws and that their failure to transport research animals ‘will slow down the progress of essential and life-saving biomedical research that is necessary for drugs, treatments, cures and the prevention of disease’.

The opinion piece says: “When should a government be able to tell a privately run airline what it should and should not carry? A good answer is: when lives are at stake. On this basis passengers are barred from taking knives and guns on board civilian aircraft. There is a similar argument to be made in favour of airlines carrying animals bred for scientific research. This research saves lives.”

British Airways accused of breaking U.S. federal law by refusing to carry animals intended for research, in official complaint by biomedical sector

The U.S. National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR), has accused four airlines operating in the USA, including British Airways, of discrimination by refusing to carry animals for use in medical research when the same animals can be carried as pets, farm animals or for zoos.

In a formal complaint to the Department of Transportation by NABR, the association has said British Airways, China Southern, Qatar Airways and United Airlines should comply with federal laws and that the failure to transport research animals ‘will slow down the progress of essential and life-saving biomedical research that is necessary for drugs, treatments, cures and the prevention of disease’.

Read the articles in The Times: Article Opinion

NABR, which represents 360 U.S. public and private organisations, also states in its formal complaint that the airlines’ actions violate federal laws, ‘including ones that prohibit unreasonable discrimination and that require airlines to impose reasonable conditions on transport of these animals’. Continue reading