February 2024 Enewsletter


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February 22, 2024

NIH Focuses on Alternatives in Biomedical Research

The largest funder of biomedical research in the world is taking steps to integrate alternatives into normal laboratory use. In a statement released this month, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Dr. Monica Bertagnolli spoke about the agency’s new commitment to spur the development and use of non-animal methods in the research it funds, noting the great potential of alternatives.

“We…are seeing dramatic leaps in technologies that allow researchers to use complementary, non-animal-based approaches to study biological functions and human disease,” she said. “These so called ‘novel alternative methods’ or NAMs…hold tremendous promise when applied to the appropriate scientific inquiry.”

After assessing the challenges and opportunities that NAMs bring, a committee that advises the NIH Director recommended that the agency prioritize investing in the development and use of alternatives in biomedical research. This effort will create an infrastructure for collaboration, sharing data, and the resources to do so, as well as invest in training and facilitate greater use of NAMs to study human disease and biological systems. Additionally, the Complement Animal Research in Experimentation program will help accelerate the development, standardization, validation, and use of alternatives that more accurately model human physiology and can replace animal models.

In accepting these recommendations, Bertagnolli stated that the NIH is “committed to continuing its investment in building a robust suite of tools for researchers to study human biology and disease.”

The NIH has been engaged in alternatives development and use in toxicology testing for many years, but basic biomedical research is dominated by animal models, so it is an exciting shift towards a wider acceptance of non-animal methods in science as a whole.

Other News

The Asia for Animals Coalition responded to a recent National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR) petition challenging the scientific decision by a conservation body to ‘uplist’ long-tailed macaques to Endangered. In a letter to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the Coalition noted that NABR’s reviewers lack expertise in primate population assessment, and refuted its claim of inadequate evidence for the uplisting. The Coalition asserted that “[r]escinding the species’ Endangered status would likely be disastrous for long-tailed macaque populations.”

An article by the World Federation for Animals (of which AAVS is a Founding Member) was featured in Perspectives, published by the United Nations Environmental Program. The article analyzed the important relationships between animals and the natural world and explains why protection of wild animals helps climate mitigation and needs to be an important consideration in climate and sustainable development strategies.

Sanctuary Moment

AAVS & Sanctuaries

Visiting Primate Sanctuaries

In January, AAVS President Sue Leary visited three Florida sanctuaries that care for orangutans, chimpanzees, and monkeys who were once used in research or subjected to other abusive situations. These sanctuaries—the Center for Great Apes, Jungle Friends, and Save the Chimps—receive support from AAVS’s Sanctuary Fund, perhaps the most rewarding of all our programs. Providing the special care that primates need to heal and thrive takes dedicated people to ensure their lives are rich, diverse, comfortable, and as close as possible to what they would experience in the wild.

While it’s fun and rewarding to meet caregivers, see the animals, and hear their stories of recovery, it’s also an important part of our fiscal responsibility to ensure funds given by AAVS are being used wisely and for the intended purpose. Site visits allow AAVS to see first-hand how the primates are benefitting from our members’ kindness and generosity.

Your donations to the Sanctuary Fund make a big difference in the lives of animals who need lifetime care. But did you know that 100% of your contribution goes directly toward animal care? AAVS believes it’s important to maximize your donation in order to maximize the value that animals receive. It’s the responsible thing to do!

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