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Question continued: I have seen a TED (What veterinarians know that physicians don’t) that a physician talks about a cooperative effort between physicians and veterinarians. She even cited examples of how a physician was helped by a veterinarian in a specific disease that was documented in the 1970’s in a specific animal, I guess never seen before in a human. I also asked about botany because I once heard from a Biology professor that if medical and botany communities came together they could learn things from each other.

Tirumalai Kamala’s answer:

Based on my knowledge of current biomedical research enterprise, the picture is not one of cooperation and collaboration so much as of co-option. Today Medicine and Veterinary science are deeply intertwined, and have been since at least the 1950s. In fact, Medical + Veterinary fields = Modern biomedical research. OTOH, pragmatism has led to Botany + Medicine = Transgenic plants for new generation of edible biopharmaceuticals and vaccines for humans.

Over the last 60 years biomedical research animal use has expanded greatly, use that’s codified and regulated by a vast bureaucracy within which veterinarians are essential, albeit co-opted, gatekeepers. Why co-opted gatekeepers ? It’s not they but scientists who control the biomedical research agenda. Though gatekeepers mandated by federal regulations, over the decades veterinarians have become consigned to the role of rubber-stampers. Today, biomedical scientists and veterinarians have to work together. Consider for example toxicology, the science of adverse effects of chemicals on living things. All these new chemicals we’ve been using since the last century. How could we surmise if they are safe for us, other animals and the environment? Before unleashing them on ourselves, we tested them on lab animals for developmental and reproductive toxicity, how else? Rodents as well as non-rodents.

What’s the process for using animals in research? First, let’s outline why we use animals in research. Second, a brief summary of the numbers. Third, processes behind the numbers. Fourth, history, and fifth and finally, limitations and conflicts of interest of this vast bureaucracy that illustrate how veterinary science has been co-opted to service modern biomedical research.

I. Why do we use animals in research?

  1. By gradual societal consensus over the course of the 20th century, we can no longer directly experiment on ourselves. We need to first test on ‘lower’ animals.
  2. To understand basic biology. e.g. mouse, rat, zebra fish, nematode (Caenorhabditis), fruit fly (Drosophila).
  3. To develop animal models of human disease. e.g. mouse, rat, zebra fish.
  4. To develop drugs and vaccines for human and animal use. e.g. mouse, ferret, rat.
  5. To develop novel surgical procedures. e.g. pig, sheep.
  6. To develop and test new medical devices.  e.g. pig, sheep.
  7. To culture pathogenic microorganisms that can’t be cultured in vitro. e.g. nine-banded armadillo for Mycobacterium leprae.
  8. To assess toxicity of drugs, vaccines, chemicals and other consumer products. e.g. mouse, rat.
  9. In education and training. e.g. in schools, colleges, medical and veterinary schools.

II. Research animal use by the numbers.

  1. Of 103 Nobel prizes in Physiology or Medicine, 83 involved non-human vertebrate animal research (1).
  2. No accurate numbers, only extremely rough estimates. Likely huge under-estimate.
  3. Data incomplete. Excludes animals used for breeding, surplus animals that are culled, multi-year use of same animal used in long-term experiments such as carcinogenicity or two-generation reproductive toxicity.
  4. US is far and away largest user of research animals. Next Japan and Great Britain.
  5. Official US numbers are extremely unreliable since they exclude mouse, rat, fish, reptile, amphibians. In short, most animals used in research and toxicity testing!
  6. In the US, >90% of research animals are mice and rats.
  7. In the EU, ~80% are rodents, ~10% are fish, amphibians and reptiles, and ~6% are birds (2).
  8. EU’s ultimate goal is full replacement of animal experiments (3).
  9. The Humane Society of the US (HSUS) hopes for full replacement by 2050 (4).
  10. With all the above caveats, Taylor et al (5, see below) conservatively estimate (very loosely) more than 115 million research animals among 179 countries for the year 2005.

From 5

III. Research animal use process
I’m most familiar with the US process so I’ll elaborate on that.
USDA-APHIS

  1. The mission of USDA (US Department of Agriculture), in particular USDA-Aphis (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) is ‘To ensure that animals intended for use in research facilities or for exhibition purposes or for use as pets are provided humane care and treatment’.
  2. However, USDA monitors less than 10% of federally-funded research animal use, namely pigs, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, goats, sheep, cattle, horses, dogs and cats.

Public Health Service Policy

  1. Oversees all research animal use, especially rodents (mice and rats), which comprise >90%.
  2. Entities that receive federal funding for animal research commit to follow the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (The Guide).
  3. Such entities need to submit an Assurance statement to the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW).

What’s the Guide?

  1. A 220-page booklet (6).
  2. Defines an animal as ‘any vertebrate animal used in research, teaching or testing’.
  3. Outlines research animal housing requirements, facility operations and veterinary care.
  4. Outlines the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) setup and procedure.

The IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee) process

  1. Authorized by federal law under auspices of USDA and OLAW to oversee research animal use, procedures and facilities.
  2. Reviews all research animal use protocols.
  3. Research with animals can only proceed with IACUC approval.
  4. Inspects research animal facilities at least annually if not more frequently.
  5. Should at minimum comprise a veterinarian, scientist and community member (non-scientist).
  6. At least one member should be outsider, i.e. not employed/affiliated with the entity.
  7. Animal use protocols reviewed annually.
  8. Protocol updates and revisions also require IACUC approval.

AAALAC(Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care, International).
AAALAC International, Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International, animal research, accreditation, AAALAC, laboratory animals, animal welfare, biomedical research, animals in science, animal care and use

  1. Full accreditation by AAALAC is the goal of every US research animal facility.
  2. Why? AAALAC Accreditation is the perceived gold standard for research animal use.
  3. So what is AAALAC? A non-profit organization that peer reviews research animal care and use programs.
  4. At each accredited site, AAALAC teams perform site inspection and program evaluation every 3 years.

IV. Research animal use history

Discoveries and techniques that enabled increasing research animal use

  1. Domesticated rat, Rattus norvegicus, has been used since at least 1828. Half of lab rats used today descend from the Wistar rat, the first standard rat strain developed in 1909 (7, 8).
  2. Domesticated mouse, Mus musculus, was famously used by Gregor Mendel in his heredity studies of coat color, only switching to peas when admonished by his local bishop that mouse rearing was inappropriate for a priest (9).
  3. Lucien Cuénot pioneered the use of mouse in study of Mendelian genetics.
  4. In early 20th century, mouse fanciers like Abbie Lathrop (10) made inbred mouse strains easily available to scientists.
  5. Inbred mouse strains proved valuable genetic tools especially in the discovery of histocompatibility genes (Major histocompatibility complex) for which George Davis Snell, Baruj Benacerraf and Jean Dausset were awarded the 1980 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
  6. In 1980 John Gordon and Franck Ruddle developed the first transgenic mouse (11).
  7. In 2002, the mouse became the second mammal, after humans, to have its whole genome sequenced.
  8. Mario R. Capecchi (born 1937), Martin J. Evans (born 1941), and Oliver Smithies (born 1925) developed the first gene knockout mouse model in 1988, and received the 2007 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine (The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2007).
  9. 5, 6, 7, 8 plus new technologies exponentially accelerated mouse model gene function studies. Today mouse is the most commonly used animal model (12, 13).

How did our current structure of research animal use come to be?

  1. In the UK, the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare first published its Handbook on the Care and Management of Laboratory Animals in 1954.
  2. The organization’s founder Charles Hume commissioned zoologist and polymath William Russell (1925–2006) and microbiologist Rex Burch (1926–1996) to develop a guide for humane techniques in animal experimentation (14, 15, 16).
  3. Russell and Burch developed the tenet of the “Three Rs”—Replacement, Reduction, Refinement (17). They proposed that ‘humane science’ is the ‘best science’.”
  4. Replacement: ‘any scientific method employing non-sentient material [to] replace methods which use conscious living vertebrates’.
  5. Reduction: ‘the number of animals used to obtain information of a given amount and precision.
  6. Refinement: ‘decrease in the incidence or severity of […] procedures applied to those animals which have to be used’.
  7. Russell and Birch also proposed that well-being of laboratory animals is a basic requirement for the quality of science (14).
  8. Russell and Burch’s proposal was largely ignored until 1978 when physiologist David Henry Smyth (1908–1979) aligned the 3R concept with the notion of alternatives (18) defined as ‘all procedures which can completely replace the need for animal experiments, reduce the numbers of animals required, or diminish the amount of pain or distress suffered by animals in meeting the essential needs of man and other animals’ (19).
  9. Since Smyth’s revision, research animal users have to justify their research animal use with compelling evidence (20).
  10. Today, the 3Rs provide the framework for research animal use.
  11. Philosophically, research animal use hews to Peter Singer‘s patriarchal Welfarist/Utilitarian rather than Tom Regan‘s Abolitionist stance. Thus, while we grant research animals tenuous protection from suffering, we use them as means to our end because we consider our well-being more important than theirs.
  12. Unfortunately for animals, the current bureaucratic structure of modern scientific enterprise took shape prior to our improved understanding of cognitive and emotional capabilities of animals  (21) while human society itself has undergone a profound shift towards animals from utilitarian expedient to almost or indeed sentient (22).


V. Research animal use limitations and conflicts of interest

  1. Are research animals effective and predictive for human disease outcomes? A slow and steady drip-drip-drip of evidence now makes us seriously question this (23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32). The >90% failure rate of new drugs during the development process from pre-clinical (mouse) to human shows the current chain of human drug development from mouse to non-human primates to humans is seriously flawed.
  2. Inertia and apathy attendant to bureaucracy means we continue to use outmoded tests that cause research animals unrelieved pain and distress which we can only explain away disingenuously. Case in point? Rabies vaccine. Each and every batch of every vaccine has to be tested for its effectiveness and safety before it can be released for use. This is the potency test. For rabies vaccine, we continue to use a 60-year old animal potency test called the NIH test. Flawed at many levels: highly variable (up to 400%!); infected animals suffer severe pain and distress; safety risk to lab staff; lengthier than newer alternatives. There are at least two newer alternatives that greatly minimize animal pain and distress and are much more reliable. Yet the NIH test for rabies vaccine potency remains the required regulatory gold standard (33). Why?a) The current generation of regulators was trained 20 to 30 years back when the motto was ‘in vivo veritas’ (truth in living things). This mindset engenders discomfort with alternatives to animal models.b) a 3R model is not merely a technology change but also change in regulations, infrastructure and end-user practices.

    c) The ‘validation challenge’, i.e. the regulatory mindset that the newer 3R model be compared to conventional animal model. In most cases, the two are incomparable.

    d) Not science-driven. Rather fear of litigation drives risk avoidance behavior among regulators. Result? When in doubt fall back on custom and practice.


Botany + Medicine = Transgenic plants for new generation of edible biopharmaceuticals and vaccines. What’s the process?

See figure 1 in reference 34.

On May 1, 2012, the US FDA approved carrot-cell produced glucocerebrosidase (GCD), commercially called ELEYSOTMfor treating Gaucher’s disease (35).

From 36

Bibliography

  1. Franco, Nuno Henrique. “Animal experiments in biomedical research: a historical perspective.” Animals 3.1 (2013): 238-273. Animal Experiments in Biomedical Research: A Historical Perspective
  2. Page on eur-lex.europa.eu
  3. Louhimies, S. Eu Directive 2010/63/EU: “Implementing the three Rs through policy”. ALTEX Proc. 2012, 1, 27–33.
  4. Stephens, M.L. Pursuing Medawar’s challenge for full replacement. ALTEX Proc. 2012, 1, 23–26.
  5. Taylor, Katy, et al. “Estimates for worldwide laboratory animal use in 2005.” (2008). Page on animalstudiesrepository.org
  6. Page on nih.gov
  7. Lindsey, J.R.; Baker, H.J. Historical foundations. In The Laboratory Rat. Suckow, M.A., Weisbroth, S.H., Franklin, C.L., Eds.; Elsevier: Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2006. The Laboratory Rat
  8. Hedrich, H.J. The history and development of the rat as a laboratory animal model. In The Laboratory Rat; Krinke, G., Ed.; Academic: Waltham, MA, USA, 2000; pp. 3–16. The Laboratory Rat
  9. The Monk in the Garden
  10. Page on nih.gov
  11. Gordon, Jon W., and Frank H. Ruddle. “Integration and stable germ line transmission of genes injected into mouse pronuclei.” Science 214.4526 (1981): 1244-1246.
  12. Morse, H.C. Building a better mouse: One hundred years of genetics and biology. In The Mouse in Biomedical Research: History, Wild Mice, and Genetics; Fox, J.G., Ed.; Academic Press: Waltham, MA, USA, 2007. The Mouse in Biomedical Research
  13. Davisson, M.T.; Linder, C.C. History of mouse genetics and research with the laboratory mouse. In The Laboratory Mouse; Hedrich, H.J.; Bullock, G.R., Eds.; Elsevier Academic Press: Oxford, UK, 2004; pp. 16–20. The Laboratory Mouse
  14. Russell, W.M. The three Rs: Past, present and future. Anim. Welf. 2005, 14, 279–286.
  15. Balls, M. Professor W.M.S. Russell (1925–2006): Doyen of the three Rs. In Proceedings of the 6th World Congress on Alternatives & Animal Use in the Life Sciences, Tokyo, Japan, 21–25 August 2007; pp. 1–7.
  16. Stephens, M.L.; Goldberg, A.M.; Rowan, A.N. The first forty years of the alternatives approach: Refining, reducing, and replacing the use of laboratory animals. In The State of the Animals: 2001; Salem, D.J., Rowan, A.N., Eds.; Humane Society Press: Washington, DC, USA, 2001; pp. 121–135.
  17. Russell, W.M.S.; Burch, R.L. The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique; Methuen & Co. Ltd.: London, UK, 1959.
  18. Nuffield Council on Bioethics. The context of animal research: Past and present. In The Ethics of Research Involving Animals; Nuffield Council on Bioethics: London, UK, 2005; Balls, M. Alternatives to animal experiments: Serving in the middle ground. AATEX 2005, 11, 4–14.
  19. Smyth, D.H. Alternatives to Animal Experiments; Scolar Press [for] the Research Defence Society: London, UK,1978.
  20. Balls, M. Alternatives to animal experiments: Serving in the middle ground. AATEX 2005, 11, 4–14.
  21. Ibrahim DM (2006) Reduce, refine, replace: the failure of the three R’s and the future of animal experimentation. University of Chicago Legal Forum, 2006; Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 06-17.
  22. Rusche B (2003) The 3 Rs and animal welfare: conflict or way forward? ALTEX 20: 63–76.
  23. Hackam, Daniel G., and Donald A. Redelmeier. “Translation of research evidence from animals to humans.” Jama 296.14 (2006): 1727-1732.
  24. Horrobin, David F. “Modern biomedical research: an internally self-consistent universe with little contact with medical reality?.” Nature Reviews Drug Discovery 2.2 (2003): 151-154.
  25. Perel, Pablo, et al. “Comparison of treatment effects between animal experiments and clinical trials: systematic review.” Bmj 334.7586 (2007): 197. Page on nih.gov
  26. Ioannidis, John PA. “Evolution and translation of research findings: from bench to where.” PLoS clinical trials 1.7 (2006): e36. Evolution and Translation of Research Findings: From Bench to Where
  27. Pound, Pandora, et al. “Where is the evidence that animal research benefits humans?.” Bmj 328.7438 (2004): 514-517. Page on nih.gov
  28. Macleod, M. “What can systematic review and meta-analysis tell us about the experimental data supporting stroke drug development.” Int J Neuroprot Neuroregener 1 (2005): 201.
  29. Garber, Ken. “Realistic rodents? Debate grows over new mouse models of cancer.” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 98.17 (2006): 1176-1178. Realistic Rodents? Debate Grows Over New Mouse Models of Cancer
  30. Matthews, Robert AJ. “Medical progress depends on animal models-doesn’t it?.” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 101.2 (2008): 95-98. Medical progress depends on animal models – doesn’t it?
  31. Grass, George M., and Patrick J. Sinko. “Effect of diverse datasets on the predictive capability of ADME models in drug discovery.” Drug discovery today 6 (2001): 54-61.
  32. Shanks, Niall, Ray Greek, and Jean Greek. “Are animal models predictive for humans?.” Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine 4.1 (2009): 2. Page on peh-med.com
  33. Schiffelers, Marie-Jeanne WA, et al. “Regulatory acceptance and use of 3R models: a multilevel perspective.” ALTEX-Alternatives to Animal Experimentation 29.3 (2012): 287. Page on jhsph.edu
  34. Daniell, Henry, et al. “Plant-made vaccine antigens and biopharmaceuticals.” Trends in plant science 14.12 (2009): 669-679. Plant-made vaccine antigens and biopharmaceuticals
  35. FDA. FDA approves new orphan drug to treat a form of Gaucher disease. FDA approves new orphan drug to treat a form of Gaucher disease
  36. Chen, Qiang, and Huafang Lai. “Plant-derived virus-like particles as vaccines.” Human vaccines & immunotherapeutics 9.1 (2013): 26-49. Plant-derived virus-like particles as vaccines

https://www.quora.com/Are-there-any-research-agreements-that-unite-the-medical-veterinary-and-or-botany-communities-who-are-aiming-at-the-improvement-of-their-own-scientific-fields/answer/Tirumalai-Kamala

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