April 12th 2021


EARA News Digest 2021 - Week 15

Welcome to your Monday morning update, from EARA, on the latest developments in biomedical science, policy and openness in animal research in Europe and around the world.
See EARA's Coronavirus updates

A step forward in pediatric heart research

Using lambs, scientists from the University of Minnesota, USA, have created a new type of artificial heart valve for young patients that is capable of growing.

Currently, there is no tissue-engineered valve that will grow with a patient who needs a heart valve replacement.

The team developed the device by growing skin cells from a donor lamb in a tube-shaped gel.They then created flaps that open and close like heart valves (see video) and implanted them into the lamb.

The findings, published in Science Translational Medicine, revealed the valves lasted for up to a year as the animals matured into adult sheep.



Undercover video from Spain – EARA statement

EARA has viewed with deep concern the video footage taken from inside the laboratories of the Spanish toxicology contract research organisation Vivotecnia, Madrid, and has issued a statement.

EARA executive director, Kirk Leech, said: “Whilst the footage has been edited - and we would ask that the unedited footage be made publicly available - EARA recognises that what has been shown so far reveals examples of unacceptable animal welfare standards applied to a number of different animal species.”

As a member of the Spanish Transparency Agreeement, Vivotecnia has said it will begin an investigation into the film and has requested a voluntary inspection from Spain’s Competent Authority.

Nevertheless, EARA believes Vivotecnia needs to go further, and allow a full and independent investigation of its animal welfare practices, in line with its existing pledges about animal welfare.

“We would ask that this is done as quickly as possible in respect of the thousands of researchers and institutes in Europe involved in the honourable endeavour of biomedical research, which is in line with strict standards of animal welfare,” said Kirk.



Mark BRAD day ‘virtually’ this Thursday

Biomedical Research Awareness Day (BRAD) takes place this week on Thursday (15 April). 

Organised by Americans for Medical Progress (AMP), the online initiative will highlight the importance of biomedical research using personal stories from patients about diseases and conditions  

The video stories will be shared on social media with information about which animal species were used to find a suitable treatment. 

On the same day, EARA is launching a new initiative called #LetsTalkSciComm – which asks science communicators how they communicate about research, and in particular how they handle the subject of animal research.  

EARA’s first guest is Ben Rein, a TikTok communicator and neuroscientist at the Stanford University, USA. 



New zebrafish model to understand rare disease

An international collaboration co-ordinated by Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary, has developed a zebrafish model of a rare disease that can cause blindness in middle-aged people.
Pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE) is a genetic disease which develops in early adulthood, affecting vision and other soft tissues due to the excess production of calcium plaques.
The group used CRISPR/Cas9 technology to modify the gene in zebrafish embryos, and were then able to induce the calcium crystal plaques, allowing researchers to study their formation.
The model will now be used to test potential drug candidates for PXE, alongside existing mouse models of the disease.



New EARA London office

EARA has moved to a new office in London.The address details are:

European Animal Research Association (EARA), 3.04 LABS Atrium, The Stables Market, Chalk Farm Rd, London NW1 8AH.

The new phone numbers are: +44(0) 20 3355 3095 and +44(0) 20 3355 7458.

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