- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 18, 2001

BALTIMORE (AP) A Johns Hopkins University affiliate will give $100,000 to research pain and distress in mice and rats used in biomedical experiments.
"We're not going to be able to eliminate all animal research," said Alan M. Goldberg, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT). "We want to do as much as possible to minimize pain and distress."
Some of the research will result in pain and death for the mice being studied. But Mr. Goldberg said it also should lead to more humane treatment of lab animals and more accurate scientific results.
The research might lead to new ways to control and eliminate pain in humans.
"Pain pathways go through different species in the same way," Mr. Goldberg said. "Hopefully, what we learn from animal studies can be applied to humans."
Animal-rights activists long opposed to animal experiments and critical of CAAT expressed skepticism.
"CAAT is notable for its lack of productivity and its failure to champion non-animal test methods," said Jessica Sandler of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. "It's really a mouthpiece for the animal-research lobby."
CAAT was founded in 1981 with a $1 million grant from the cosmetics industry, which was under attack for using animals to test the toxicity of its products.
The center's donors include Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gillette and Charles River Laboratories, a major producer of lab animals. But support also comes from more moderate animal-welfare groups, including the Humane Society and the Bernice Barbour Foundation.
Most of the consumer products industry has moved away from live experimentation, Mr. Goldberg said. CAAT and its grantees have helped to develop human tissue cultures that are widely used today in place of live animals to test product safety.
But the demand for experimental animals is increasing again mostly for biomedical research.
Hopkins is building a $30 million facility to breed and maintain rodents for genetic research.
Four grantees will provide $25,000 each to four researchers in the United States and the Netherlands. The money is part of an $800,000 donation from two private philanthropies, the Tamarind Fund and the Mollylou Foundation.
The grantees will examine the effects of anesthetics, pain relievers, caging environments and handling on weight change, heart rate and behaviors thought to reflect pain and distress in rodents.
A study at Hopkins will try to identify the genes that turn on or off in response to pain. If successful, scientists might someday be able to test tissue cultures in a lab dish, rather than in live animals, to judge whether a substance or drug will cause pain or eliminate it.
To gain that knowledge, experimenters will inject lab mice with an agent known to cause pain and inflammation, then sacrifice the animals and measure the chemical responses in their brains prescribed by their genetics.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide