1 de Agosto de 2022



EARA News Digest 2022 - Week 31

Welcome to your Monday morning update, from EARA, on the latest news in biomedical science, policy and openness on animal research. 

US clinical trials of pig organ transplants

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is planning to allow clinical trials testing of the transplantation of pig organs into humans.

If the agency follows through, the trials could be a key step in an effort to ease the critical shortage of human donor organs. It is however unclear when the trials would begin.

The research proposals are likely to be handled on a case-by-case basis.

The proposal comes in the wake of a handful of experimental surgeries involving pig organ transplants (xenotranplantation). This included the first pig-to-human heart transplant at the University of Maryland Medical Centre Baltimore – the critically ill patient, David Bennett, lived for two months after the groundbreaking surgery.

Meanwhile, last month, scientists at New York University Langone Health announced that they had successfully transplanted pig hearts into brain-dead patients.



Action needed to ensure the supply of macaque monkeys for research

Concerns about the long-term viability of using long-tailed macaques in biomedical research have been explored in an article in Vice magazine.

It follows an announcement last month by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) that this once common monkey had entered the ‘endangered list for the first time.

Deforestation, human consumption, and culling have all contributed, but in the latest assessment, researchers also cited the monkeys’ ongoing use as a ‘biological resource’.

These monkeys are the most widely used in biomedical research and, as Vice observed, the demand for these animals has increased due to the Covid pandemic, where they were used in preclinical studies and vaccine testing, adding to existing research on a raft of diseases like HIV, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s.

The article interviewed EARA executive director, Kirk Leech, who explained the vital importance of non-human primates for research and the ongoing shortage of captive-bred animals.

Kirk cited the current ‘perfect storm’ of an export ban by China and the difficulty of finding airlines to transport animals as a threat to research in Europe.

“In ten years' time, I'd be dismayed at what impact this will have on research,” he said.

EARA believes that far more should now be done to establish breeding centres for non-human primates in Europe, in order to avoid dependence on transporting animals from Asia and the inadvertent risk of endangering the species in the wild.



Survey on monitoring research rodents

An international consortium is seeking the opinions of researchers and technicians in a survey to  gather views on how to improve animal behaviour research.

The purpose of the survey, by the COST TEATIME consortium, is to gather views to help future developments and challenges in systems which monitor animals in their home cage environments.

Most work on rodents has involved them living in one cage (their home cage) and then undergoing procedures or experiments in other environments.

Home-cage monitoring can potentially reduce the need to remove animals for short-term testing in unfamiliar environments, which can alter or mask behaviours depending on the surroundings they are moved to.

The COST TEATIME consortium was founded by 58 researchers in 23 countries, but aims to expand to a network of behavioural research scientists, manufacturers, bioinformaticians and experts in machine learning.

To take part in the Home Cage Monitoring Survey go to bit.ly/3xe1Dje

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