March 20th 2023


20 de Março de 2023



EARA News Digest 2023 - Week 12

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

Anxiety is similar in dogs and humans  study

Dogs with anxiety have similar behaviours and  brain changes as humans with the condition, new research has found.

The study at EARA member Ghent University, Belgium, could lead to better treatments for both humans and animals. 

Researchers scanned the brains of pet dogs and humans with anxiety, as well as lab-reared dogs that were not anxious, to identify the brain pathways that are linked to the condition.

The researchers saw that there were significant differences between the brains of anxious and non-anxious dogs – for example, anxious dogs had a more efficient amygdala (a brain region involved in processing fear), something that is similarly seen in people with anxiety.

“The prevalence of anxiety disorders among dogs is high and the most encountered behavioural disorder in daily practice,” the authors wrote.



Brain researchers call phase-out of European animal research ‘unrealistic’

The European Research Council (EBC) has published a statement in support of the importance of using animals in research studies.
The statement, launched in Brain Awareness Week, is in response to the European Citizens’ Initiative petition (ECI), currently being considered by the European Commission.
In its statement, the EBC said that the ECI demand for a fixed deadline for phasing out animal experiments in the EU was ‘arbitrary and unrealistic’.
The EBC added: ‘In the absence of scientifically valid methods that can replace particular animal procedures, phasing out the use of animals in medical research would have major consequences and impact the quest to improve the quality of life of the many citizens affected by brain conditions, neurological and mental alike’.

There are three parts to the ECI petition – the first two call for an end to the current legal requirement to use animal testing to protect industry workers and the environment from potentially toxic chemicals in cosmetics and other products.

The third part calls for ‘a legislative proposal plotting a roadmap to phase out all animal testing in the EU before the end of the current legislative term’ – echoing the vote by the European Parliament in 2021.

The EBC promotes brain research, with members including scientific societies, patient organisations, professional societies and industry partners.



Researchers discover a direct cause of epilepsy

The activation of immune cells in the brain is directly linked to the development of seizures in epilepsy, a recent US study in fruit flies has shown.

A team at the University of Iowa and the University of Alabama, carried out a series of experiments that first identified the genes associated with seizures in fruit flies.

These genes were then categorised into those involved in the immune response, or in reducing oxidative stress - a harmful process in the body that results from the build-up of unstable atoms that can damage cells.  

By turning off the immune response and activating a gene in the brain that tackles oxidative stress, the researchers found that they could stop seizures in the flies.

Professor John Manak, at Iowa, said: “We now have the perfect model with our flies to screen through a significant number of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds. We can then elevate any promising drugs to mouse models, and then potentially human trials.”



Launch of neuroscience research awards

EARA member the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) has recently announced a new contest open to high schools.

The Neuroscience Research Award aims to inspire students to share discoveries on neuroscience and brain research by producing creative and innovative five-minute videos.

The award will be part of the FENS 2023 Regional Meeting in Algarve, Portugal, on 3-5 May. The application deadline for the award is 31 March.

EARA will be in attendance and presenting at the Regional Meeting, in a session about communication on animal research.

Meanwhile, another FENS Research Award, sponsored by EARA member Boehringer Ingelheim and worth €25,000, will be given to a researcher in Europe for ‘outstanding and innovative scientific work’ in neuroscience research, to be presented at the FENS Forum 2024.

The deadline to apply is 25 April 2023 – candidates must be maximum 15 years post-PhD at the nomination deadline.

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