November 29th 2021



EARA News Digest 2021 - Week 48

Welcome to your Monday morning update, from EARA, on the latest news in biomedical science, policy and openness on animal research. 

New target for immune treatments of blood cancer

Belgian researchers have identified a new target to treat patients with an advanced form of blood cancer, thanks to research in mice and humans.

EARA members VIB and KU Leuven, at the Centre for Cancer Biology, Belgium, studied the way a molecule (PlexinA4) found in the central nervous system, controls the immune response of cells following immunotherapy – a type of treatment that helps your immune system fight cancer.

In the study, the team found that mice with lower levels of PlexinA4 had a better survival rate than those with normal levels.

These results correlated with blood samples from patients who responded well to immunotherapy, suggesting it could be used to predict which patients will benefit from the immunotherapy.



EARA at face-to-face panel debate on the future of animal research 

EARA will take part in a face-to-face discussion on the recent vote by the EU Parliament to end animal research, and its potential impact in Europe, at a major conference in Portugal next month. 

On 10 December, EARA member, the Portuguese Society of Laboratory Animal Sciences (SPCAL), will address the topic Responsible Research and Innovation in Science in Laboratory Animals, with EARA executive director, Kirk Leech; Adrian Smith of Norway’s 3Rs body Norecopa, and Penny Hawkins of the RSPCA, UK. 

Also at the conference, EARA will run a workshop to offer advice to scientists about how they communicate about their animal studies in basic research (the deadline for registration for the conference and the workshop is Wednesday, 1 December). 

On Thursday, 9 December, at the Animal Welfare Bodies symposium, Inês Preguiça, of the University of Coimbra, will take part in an EARA #TransparencyThursday, answering questions on her research, which recently won the EPAA Refinement Prize (see EARA News Digest, issue 44).  



Study into how the body regulates fear (audio) 

Scientists at the EARA member, Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Germany, have found how the body, not just the brain, regulates fear (audio story available). 

Using mice, the team focused on the insular cortex - a brain region that processes both positive and negative emotions – to understand the body-brain interactions on the regulation of emotion.  

In the findings, in Science, they observed a difference in the behaviour of the mice, depending on how naturally fearful they were at the start of the study. 

They noticed that highly fearful mice ‘unlearned’ their fear slower, whereas less fearful mice adapted much faster. 

"For a long time, neuroscience has ignored the fact that the brain does not work in isolation. The body also plays a crucial role in emotion regulation," said first author of the study, Alexandra Klein. 



EARA online media training for Poland and Italy - December

EARA is to hold two free online media training workshops designed for audiences in Poland (6 Dec) and Italy (13 Dec).

With the support of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) and Society for Neuroscience (SfN), the workshops follow on from events held earlier in the year that stressed the importance of openness and transparency about animal research.

Based on the EARA Communications Handbook, the sessions give tips on how to start talking about animal research, plus advice about what to do in crisis situations.

Registration for these limited capacity events is open now, offering an interactive discussion and the chance to develop skills which will help your communication with the media and the wider public.

Register in SPCAL

Registration is fast and allows you access to exclusive and reserved contents for registered users on page of the Portuguese Society of Sciences Laboratory in Animals.

Make registration