Tag Archives: UK

A look back at recent biomedical breakthroughs thanks to animal research

On the eve of Biomedical Research Awaerness Day (BRAD 18 April), EARA looks back at some of the important medical advances over the last year that have involved research using animals.

Among the breakthroughs reported, that benefit both humans and animals, are:

  • Research using mice led to many new breakthroughs, such as multiple sclerosis research, at the University of Cambridge and to fight chronic pain using synthetic Botox at University College London, UK.
  • In surgical research on sheep at Lund University, Sweden, freeze-dried valves – later rehydrated for transplantation – were used in animal heart surgery for first time.
  • A team from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), Madrid, Spain, succeeded in curing pulmonary fibrosis disease in mice using a gene therapy.
  • In Belgium, researchers at EARA members VIB, KU Leuven and UZ Leuven used mice to develop new antibacterial drugs.
  • Building on a technique developed in rats, Swiss researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, in Lausanne, have announced that stimulating a person’s spinal cord can restore voluntary movement in some paralysed patients (see picture).

Scientists are also developing new biomedical treatments and techniques that replace, refine or reduce (3Rs) the use of animals in research.

  • A team from the University of Oxford, UK, and EARA member Janssen Pharmaceutica, Belgiumwon the International 3Rs Prize using a computer model that predicts accurately the risk of drug-induced heart arrhythmias in humans.

Animal research is integral to ongoing research in areas such as spinal cord repair, stem cell treatments (Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s), gene therapy (muscular dystrophy, diabetes) and molecularly targeted cancer medicines.
Historically, animal research has also led to new diagnostic tests for early treatment (cancer, heart disease); and effective treatments for serious illnesses (diabetes, leukemia, HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular disease).

The same research often helps humans and animals (treatments for arthritis, neurological disorders, organ transplants, cancer therapies) and contributes to farm animal welfare and techniques to save endangered species.

EARA Executive Director, Kirk Leech, said: “Without the use of animals the pace of advances in biomedical research would be dramatically slower.

“Finding alternative methods to animal research, such as computer models and cell cultures are extremely important, but animal testing remains the safest and most effective way to produce drugs and treatments for us all.”

EARA pinpoints potential problems for transport of animals in a no-deal Brexit

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.”

Among the issues raised were: Continue reading

The first ten years of the UK’s Understanding Animal Research

by UAR Chief Executive Wendy Jarrett

Understanding Animal Research (UAR) reached its tenth birthday on 1 January 2019 and we have been engaging and informing people about how and why animals are used in research for a decade. So we thought that it would be a good time to have a look back at some of the highlights of the past decade and remind ourselves of how UAR came about and what it has achieved so far.

UAR has inherited the DNA of two parent UK organisations – the Research Defence Society (RDS) and the Coalition for Medical Progress (CMP). RDS was founded by Stephen Paget in January 1908 as a response to the rising profile of organisations opposed to the use of animals in research, primarily the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) and the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV, now known as Cruelty Free International). Continue reading

Top ten UK universities for animal research announced

 A list of the ten UK universities that conduct the highest number of animal procedures has been published by Understanding Animal Research (UAR).

The statistics have been gathered from figures found on the universities’ websites as part of their ongoing commitment to transparency and openness.

The ten institutions collectively conducted over one third of all UK animal research in 2017 all have signed up to the Concordat on Openness on Animals Research.

The top three in the list are University of Oxford (236,429 procedures), University of Edinburgh (225,366) and University College London (214,570).

Wendy Jarrett, chief executive of UAR, said: “The Concordat has fostered a culture of openness at research institutions up and down the UK.

“Almost two-thirds of the university Concordat signatories provide their animal numbers openly on their websites – accounting for almost 90% of all animal research at UK universities.“

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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.

EARA Brexit briefing published

EARA Brexit Taskforce Briefing on the potential implications for animal science in the UK and EU stemming from Brexit

EARA has brought together a group of organisations under a Brexit Taskforce. The Taskforce is comprised of the following organisations – EARA, ABPI, AnimalHealth Europe, Charles River Laboratories, Covance, Ellegaard Göttingen Minipigs, Envigo, GSK, Marshall BIoResources, National Office of Animal Health, Understanding Animal Research and the Wellcome Sanger Institute.

The Task Force has produced this briefing which addresses both the complexities and possible opportunities for animal science in Europe stemming from Exit. Read the briefing here

The aim of this initiative is to allow the wider biomedical sector the opportunity to raise concerns with both the 27 (through EU engagement) and UK authorities on outstanding and unresolved issues over Brexit and animal science. If you have any questions about the briefing or believe that your organisation would benefit from joining the Task Force please contact us at info@eara.eu

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Brain Prize winner emphasises essential need for animal research into Alzheimer’s

Basic researchers into Alzheimer disease awarded major scientific prize

Today it was announced that the 2018 Brain Prize will be awarded to Bart De Strooper (VIB, KU Leuven and University College London), Michel Goedert (University of Cambridge), Christian Haass (DZNE, Ludwig-Maximilians-University) and John Hardy (UCL) for their groundbreaking research on the genetic and molecular basis of Alzheimer’s disease.

The four researchers will share the 1 million EUR prize awarded by the Lundbeck Foundation.
This year’s Brain Prize winners have made essential contributions, in basic research, to the genetic and molecular knowledge of Alzheimer’s, mapping new avenues for the diagnosis, treatment and possibly even prevention of this neurodegenerative disorder. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, affecting approximately 30 million people worldwide. Continue reading

EARA backs UK commitment to animal welfare

The European Animal Research Association (EARA) has backed the UK government’s recent statements on its commitment to animal welfare.

The UK Parliament recently voted not to carry over Article 13 of the Lisbon treaty into UK law as part of Brexit legislation – Article 13 states that ‘since animals are sentient beings, [countries must] pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals’. This was seen by opponents as an attempt to undermine current standards of animal welfare in the UK and led to a reaffirming of the UK position by the Prime Minister, Theresa May.

In Parliament she said: “The Animal Welfare Act 2006 provides protection for all animals capable of experiencing pain or suffering which are under the control of man. But I reaffirm to that we will be ensuring that we maintain and enhance our animal welfare standards when we leave the EU.”

Commenting on the controversy EARA Executive Director, Kirk Leech, said: “The current debate has more to do with political manoeuvring than animal welfare.The UK is among the countries with the highest animal welfare standards in Europe and we welcome the UK Government’s stated intention to continue to enhance this in future. Both the Animal Welfare Act and the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, 1986 are dedicated to protecting sentient animals.”

A trans-Atlantic transparency gap on animal experiments

This article was originally published in Science on 14 July 2017

The launch last month of a website called LabAnimalTour.org, which showcases animal experiments at several prominent institutions in the United Kingdom, is part of a trend toward increasing openness by researchers in a country that 2 decades ago was riven by sometimes-violent animal rights activism.

Since 2014, 116 life sciences organizations in the United Kingdom have signed onto a Concordat on Openness on Animal Research that commits them to communicating frankly and in detail about their animal experiments. Ninety Spanish institutions adopted a similar pledge last year, and universities in Belgium, France, and Germany are talking about moving in the same direction. Continue reading