This article is reprinted from the Understanding Animal Research website marking the tenth anniversary of UAR.
Understanding Animal Research has a small staff and a clear remit to help the UK public to understand why and how animals are used in research while supporting its member organisations and maintaining an operating environment that allows properly regulated animal research to continue in this country. So when in 2012 UAR started to receive requests for support from biomedical research organisations in Italy, Germany and elsewhere in mainland Europe, it reluctantly had to say that we did not have the resources to give assistance.
The decision by several ferry companies to stop transporting research animals across the English Channel, also in 2012, compounded the feeling that activists across Europe were gaining the upper hand and beginning to exert pressure on the supply chain for our sector.
A meeting convened by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) in Brussels, in early 2013, saw UAR Chief Executive, Wendy Jarrett, and Kirk Leech, then of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, volunteer to co-ordinate efforts to create a project aimed at countering this rise in activism, improve public understanding of animal research and open up new transport routes for animals between the UK and the rest of Europe.
EARA member Ellegaard Göttingen Minipigs has marked 50 years of the company at its Scientific Symposium, in London, UK, which also looked at future biomedical research uses for its animal model.
After Lars Friis Mikkelsen (pictured), CEO of Ellegaard, opened the Symposium, a series of lectures explained the growth of the company and its long-term collaboration with the University of Göttingen, which originally bred the minipig, and examined the ways that the animal is used in toxicology testing.
Peter Vestbjerg of Ellegaard, explained that the Göttingen Minipigs is a good non-rodent model due to the adaptability of the minipig and its well managed genetics.
Examples of how minipigs are being used to test toxicity on compounds under development for Alzheimer’s and for anti-cancer drug development were given by Joanna Harding of AstraZeneca, and Sally-Anne Reynolds of Sequani, respectively.
From the University of Edinburgh, Michael Eddleston focused on translational medicine between animals and humans and how we can modulate human self-poisoning in Göttingen minipig models. “Pigs do save lives”, he said.
Henrik Duelund Pedersen of Ellegaard, concluded the symposium by listing the specific advantages of mini pigs in studies for dermal toxicity and reproduction among others.
EARA has highlighted the issues that could affect the efficient transportation of animals and animal related products used for research if there is a no-deal Brexit.
The submission to the UK Parliament Science and Technology Committee inquiry on Brexit, Science and Innovation: preparations for a no-deal by the EARA Brexit Taskforce, examined the import and export to and from the UK, of purpose-bred research animals, biological samples from research animals (blood, tissues, organs, embryos), medical and pharmaceutical supplies, plus supplies of specialised animal feed and research diets.
EARA Executive Director, Kirk Leech said: “Our main concern is that any logistical problems with transport and processing times, arising from lack of preparation for a no-deal Brexit, will have a negative effect on scientific investigation and animal welfare.”