Biomedical research

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1993:

A George Washington University
research team revealed October 25 in
Science that it recently cloned and
destroyed a number of human embryos,
which were available for experimental use
because they had genetic flaws. It was the
most advanced genetic engineering experi-
ment to date using human tissue. The
announcement came less than a month after
300 scientists gathered in England to discuss
xenography––animal-to-human organ trans-
plants–– made theoretically possible after a
century of failures by implanting human genes
into animals raised as donors, which would
give the organs a human configuration and
help to overcome tissue rejection.

Simultaneously, Andrew Kimbrell of the
Foundation on Economic Trends warned in a
keynote address to the American Humane
Association annual conference in Baltimore
that the humane community is not prepared to
deal with either the ethical or practical issues
that genetic engineering could soon pose.
Primatologist Jane Goodall on
October 12 asked the American College of
Surgeons to try harder to find alternatives to
the use of animals as organ donors for
humans. She drew support from a surprising
ally––Dr. Thomas Starzl, who unsuccessfully
transplanted baboon livers into several human
patients last year. Starzl said he had sworn off
using chimpanzees in research after hearing
Goodall speak on a previous occasion, and
was worried about the status of both chim-
panzees and baboons in the wild.
Already under fire over the deaths
of five of 15 patients who took an experimen-
tal drug called fialuridine in a four-week clini-
cal test, National Institutes of Health division
of digestive diseases and nutrition chief Dr.
Jay Hoofnagle was rapped again October 22
by acting NIH director Dr. Ruth Kirchstein for
trying to cut off further treatment to test sub-
ject Paul Melstrom, of Arizona, who had
publicly criticized Hoofnagle for ignoring
complaints about painful side effects of the
drug. Fialuridine was cleared for human trials
after beagles used it without complications.
The drug was intended to treat hepatatis-B.
The USDA on September 26 rejected a
request from the Humane Society of the U.S.
to expand its reporting requirements about
pain to include use of a specific pain evalua-
tion scale; enumeration of particular painful
experiments such as the LD50 and the Draize
eye irritancy test; an explanation of the scien-
tific purpose of each experiment; and notation
of the source of animals used.
The French personal care prod-
ucts firm L’Oreal announced October 11
that it will cease testing cosmetic products on
animals. Animal testing of pharmaceutical
products and new ingredients, required in
many nations by law, will continue.
R.C. Bard, one of the world’s
biggest manufacturers of medical equip-
ment, agreed October 15 to plead guilty to
more than 390 counts of fraud and improper
experimentation on humans for selling inade-
quately tested heart catheters, which caused at
least one death and 22 emergency heart surg-
eries. R.C. Bard allegedly concealed animal
test data that revealed defects in the heart
catheters from the Food and Drug
A computer anlaysis of 64 poten-
tial non-animal-based replacements for the
LD50 toxicity test shows that a combination
of five of them yields results as reliable as the
LD50 rat and/or mouse tests, says Dr. Bjorn
Ekwall, managing director of validation for
the Multicenter Evaluation of In Vitro
Cytotoxicity. The findings were shared at the
recent 11th annual congress of the
Scandinavian Society for Cell Toxicology.
California State Attorney General
Dan Lundgren has responded to an American
Civil Liberties Union lawsuit alleging the gas
chamber is cruel by proposing to insert bal-
loons into the anuses of 60 rats and inflate
them until the rats squeal, then give them
cyanide gas to measure the degree to which it
kills pain. The experiment would cost
$13,952. The ACLU evidence in the case
includes the 1986 Report of the American
Veterinary Medical Association Panel on
Euthanasia, which rejected the use of cyanide
gas on animals.
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