This week in animal research 16/09/16
Primates in Research – Responding to Attenborough
David Attenborough has been criticised for his support of CFI's campaign against the use of primates in neuroscience. The UK Expert Group for Non-Human Primates, among numerous other researchers, responded bby explaining the key role that primates play in medical research.
Letter in support of primate research
Understanding Animal Research have coordinated an open-letter in support of primate research, which has been published in the Guardian. The letter has been signed by over 400 individuals, including two Nobel laureates (Professor Sir John Gurdon and Professor Sir John Walker) and 21 organisations.
The letter states that research using primates is essential for medical research and has an important role in developing treatments for leprosy, HIV and Parkinson’s; the MMR and hepatitis B vaccines. Primates are intelligent and sensitive animals, therefore such research requires a higher level of ethical justification. Primate research accounts for less than 0.1% of all animal research in the UK and is only undertaken when an alternative doesn't exist. Scientists continue to minimise the suffering of primates wherever possible and apply the 3Rs (reduce, refine, replace) to their work.
The letter has been published in the Guardian, online and in print with an accompanying article online.
If you would like to see the full list of signatures and sign your name in support, please see the article on the UAR website.
French scientists claim to have grown human sperm in the lab, for the first time
A team of French scientists are claiming to have grown human sperm in a lab, for the first time. Having previously grown rat sperm in the lab, this is the culmination of a 20-year project that aims to help men unable to make sperm due to childhood cancer. However, some researchers say the evidence offered still falls short of what’s required to make such a large and historic claim.
Healthy mice born using sperm and pseudo-egg in order to understand fertilisation
Scientists at the University of Bath have successfully created healthy, baby mice by tricking sperm into believing they were fertilising normal eggs. The research helps explain some of the details of fertilisation and it is hoped that one day, it will be possible to achieve a similar result in humans using cells that are not from eggs.
Male animals prepare females for reproduction through pheromones
A study in mice and roundworms finds that male animals emit a chemical 'essence' which can prepare females for reproduction. The male animal does not need to hang around, as the chemical is left in pheromones lingering in places the animal has been. It is also believed this chemical can prematurely age the female animals.
Mice lacking CHD8 gene show some autism-like features
A group of Japanese scientists have published findings on mice lacking CHD8, the leading candidate gene for autism. Their mice show some autism-like features. For example, they are anxious and do not recognize mice they have previously met. However, the findings have been disputed by other groups who say their mice, who lack the same gene, behave like typical mice on social behaviour tests. Whilst others say the findings are in line with those seen in human stem cells in which CHD8 expression is suppressed.