April 2024 Enewsletter


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April 16, 2024

Alternatives to animal organs, You were heard, Spring cleaning, Supporting sanctuaries

Organoids Better for Organ Transplants

For the past few years, there has been a great deal of discussion about the organ donor shortage and the thousands of patients needing transplants who die while waiting.

Some sensationalized reporting has focused on biotech company-promoted experimental surgeries that harvest organs from genetically engineered pigs as the big solution to this shortage. However, xenotransplantation (the transplant of an animal organ into a human) is fraught with serious concerns, particularly over potentially dangerous retroviruses infecting humans and the suffering and death of animals (including nonhuman primates) used in experiments developing this uncertain technology.

An Ohio health professional is taking a practical approach—one that doesn’t harm animals and could prove to be more successful: organoids. “I saw many patients who could not be treated with transplantation because donors are limited,” said Takanori Takebe, trained as a transplant surgeon, and currently Director for Commercial Innovation for the Center for Stem Cell and Organoid Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. “I decided to seek another approach.”

Organoids are lab-made mini-organs, created from stem cells that can develop into different cell types. Because organoids can be grown from a patient’s own cells, their use is believed to be less likely to cause organ rejection, indicating great potential as a viable alternative for organ transplantation. Conversely, the use of animal organs for human transplants has long been fraught with issues of compatibility and rejection, and the animals (usually pigs) used are bred in special sterile laboratories and subjected to painful procedures. As personalized medicine continues to gain momentum, the use of human-based tissue holds the greatest long-term promise.

Other News

The National Institutes of Health’s $30 million request to expand primate research and breeding in the U.S. was NOT included in the federal government’s FY24 budget, signed into law on March 23. Previously, we asked our readers to contact their senators to urge them to deny the funding, preventing thousands of primates from suffering in experiments. Your action made a difference—thank you! Click the link to learn more about primates used in labs.

For many people, April is spring cleaning time. But are all your cleaning supplies cruelty-free? The Leaping Bunny Program has certified more than 2,000 compassionate companies as being free of new animal testing in both their ingredients and finished products. From cosmetics to personal care products to household cleaners, there’s a cruelty-free company or brand to meet your every need. So before you get cleaning, count on the Leaping Bunny!

Sanctuary Moment

Oklahoma Primate Sanctuary

Why Do We Fund Sanctuaries? So Monkeys Can Be Monkeys

AAVS is happy to announce that we have awarded a $52,500 grant to the Oklahoma Primate Sanctuary (OPS)! A long-time recipient of AAVS funding, OPS provides exceptional care for monkeys released from labs and other abusive situations. Why do we support certified sanctuaries like OPS? Because otherwise, these monkeys would have likely been killed, used in more experiments, or landed at a pseudo-sanctuary or roadside zoo. But OPS provides living environments that allow the animals to express their natural behaviors, like those living in the wild.

Take, for example, these macaques grooming each other. Despite their social nature, many primates in labs are singly housed in small cages. In the wild, macaques live in large social groups and develop close friendships. Social interaction, like grooming, is critical for their psychological well-being, and OPS does a wonderful job facilitating friendships like these.

Caring for over 80 primates, roughly half of whom were formerly used in research, OPS has taken in some of the neediest cases from labs and neglected pet situations. They do a great job sharing news about the animals in their care, while at the same time creating fun postings like FYI Fridays, where you can learn about primate life. Be sure to check out OPS on their social media!

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