LATEST ISSUE

Volume 42, Issue 5 – November 2014

 
a macaque monkey

Cynomolgus monkey or crab-eating macaque

 

Editorial: Missing, Presumed Killed in Action (or the Report that Never Was)

Robert D. Combes

The Home Office Inspectorate’s Report, which stems from concerns raised from the undercover BUAV investigation at Imperial College London, has so far not been published. This current lack of transparency by the UK Government is completely unacceptable.
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News & Views

ATLA staff writers

In Vitro Model of the Intestinal Mucosa
Tumour Spheroids
In Vitro Brain Model
First Three Rs Graduate School and Research Platform Opened in Berlin
Chinese Translation of The Three Rs and the Humanity Criterion
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CAAT News & Views

ATLA staff writers

Martin Stephens Receives Russell and Burch Award at 9th World Congress in Prague
Georgina Harris Wins Young Scientists Award
New Glossary of Reference Terms for Alternative Test Methods and their Validation
Symposium on Social Housing of Laboratory Animals
Green Toxicology: Application of Predictive Toxicology
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Monkey-based Research on Human Disease: The Implications of Genetic Differences

Jarrod Bailey

Assertions that the use of monkeys to investigate human diseases is valid scientifically are frequently based on a reported 90–93% genetic similarity between the species. Critical analyses of the relevance of monkey studies to human biology, however, indicate that this genetic similarity does not result in sufficient physiological similarity for monkeys to constitute good models for research, and that monkey data do not translate well to progress in clinical practice for humans. Salient examples include the failure of new drugs in clinical trials, the highly different infectivity and pathology of SIV/HIV, and poor extrapolation of research on Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and stroke. The major molecular differences underlying these inter-species phenotypic disparities have been revealed by comparative genomics and molecular biology — there are key differences in all aspects of gene expression and protein function, from chromosome and chromatin structure to post-translational modification. The collective effects of these differences are striking, extensive and widespread, and they show that the superficial similarity between human and monkey genetic sequences is of little benefit for biomedical research. The extrapolation of biomedical data from monkeys to humans is therefore highly unreliable, and the use of monkeys must be considered of questionable value, particularly given the breadth and potential of alternative methods of enquiry that are currently available to scientists.

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Statistical Methods and Software for Validation Studies on New In Vitro Toxicity Assays

Frank Schaarschmidt and Ludwig A. Hothorn

When a new in vitro assay method is introduced, it should be validated against the best available knowledge or a reference standard assay. For assays resulting in a simple binary outcome, the data can be displayed as a 2 × 2 table. Based on the estimated sensitivity and specificity, and the assumed prevalence of true positives in the population of interest, the positive and negative predictive values of the new assay can be calculated. We briefly discuss the experimental design of validation experiments and previously published methods for computing confidence intervals for predictive values. The application of the methods is illustrated for two toxicological examples, by using tools available in the free software, namely, R: confidence intervals for predictive values are computed for a validation study of an in vitro test battery, and sample size.

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Animal Experimentation and Alternatives: Time to Say Goodbye to the Three Rs and Hello to Humanity?

Michael Balls

The time has come to plan for a future where the Three Rs will have served their purpose, animal experimentation will have been consigned to history, and humane biomedical science in research, testing and education will have become the norm, for the benefit of humans and animals alike.

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Wider Recommendations for Institutions made in the Brown Report Following the BUAV Investigation into the Use of Animals at Imperial College London

Katy Taylor and Michael Balls

In December 2013, a group of experts produced a report on the management of an animal unit at Imperial College London, following a BUAV investigation that found evidence of systematic failures in the care and monitoring of animals used in procedures there. The Brown Report looked at four areas: the animal welfare and ethical review body (AWERB); the operation of the unit; training; and overall culture. The report made 33 recommendations to improve practices at Imperial College, many of which were relevant to other institutions. In this report, we identify the recommendations that are applicable to all animal facilities, and redraft them as a checklist with supporting information to assist those reviewing their animal care policies. We support the Brown Report’s recommendation that institutions should have a vision statement and an action plan, as well as a ‘champion’ for the Three Rs. We encourage all institutions that use animals to, as a first step, review the performance of their animal units against this checklist.

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FRAME is the Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments. It publishes ATLA. It also promotes the replacement of animals in laboratories through better science. Visit FRAME website
PiLAS is Perspectives in Laboratory Animal Science. It improves the quality of discussion about animal experimentation by giving scientists in all fields a place to exchange views. Read PiLAS