Cloned animal cells may lead to Parkinson's treatment

Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder
that causes sufferers to experience tremors and erratic movements. Experiments
with cloned cells in animals may lead to a breakthrough in treatment of
the disease.

Researchers at the University of
Colorado successfully transplanted cells |cloned| from bovine brain cells
into the brains of rats that suffered from Parkinson’s-like symptoms.
The cloned bovine cells were effective in treating the rats’ symptoms.

“What we found was that the
bovine fetal dopamine cells were just as good as bovine embryo cells from
an animal that was not cloned, ” said Dr. Curt Freed of the University
of Colorado.

Freed is not the only researcher
exploring the use of cloned animal cells for such treatments. Researchers
at Emory University will transplant pig cells into human beings later
this year.

Source:

Rhonda Rowland “Cloned animal cells may help treat Parkinson’s disease”
Cable News Network April 27, 1998.

Bill to reform baiting laws introduced in the House of Representatives

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) introduced
much-needed legislation in the House of Representatives to reform so-called
baiting laws that make it illegal for hunters to Hunt in areas baited
to attract animals. Over 4,200 people have been charged with hunting in
a baited area over the last 5 years; all but 300 of those cases end in
guilty pleas or convictions.

Rep. Young’s bill would not overturn
the baiting prohibition, but instead remove the strict liability requirement
of the law and replace it with a lower liability standard.

The strict liability provision
currently means that in most parts of the country a hunter can be prosecuted
for being in a baited area even if he was completely unaware that the
area was baited. Former Minnesota Vikings coach Bud Grant was charged
in March, for example, for hunting in a baited area in Nebraska on a trip
that had been arranged by that state’s tourism office. Grant claimed he
did not know that there was some corn in a field where the guide took
his party. Under the strict liability requirement such a defense is irrelevant.

Three states — Texas, Louisiana
and Mississippi — already operate under the lower liability standard,
which requires officials to prove that hunters knew they were hunting
in a baited area, after a federal appeals court overturned the strict
liability portion of the anti-baiting law in those states.

The Fish and Wildlife Service,
which is expected to oppose the bill, argues hunters regularly claim they
do not know an area was baited. As Kevin Adams, chief law enforcement
agent for the Fish and Wildlife Service said, “It’s very common for
hunters to say they didn’t know (the bait) was there, when in fact they
either did know or more often than not they took no steps at all to determine
whether it was baited or not.”

This may or may not be true, but
it should be the burden of the state, as in any criminal investigation,
to prove wrongdoing rather than just assume it.

Source:

Philip Brasher “Bill Would make it tougher to prosecute ‘baiting’ hunters”
Associated Press April 30, 1998.

PETA's tortured logic – are NASA's Neurolab experiments cruel?

When the space shuttle Colombia
lifted off in late April it carried 2,000 animals onboard as part of NASA’s
Neurolab research project aimed at studying the effects of microgravity
on the nervous systems of animals. The payload consisted of 152 rats,
18 pregnant mice, 229 swordtail fish, 135 snails and 1,514 crickets. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
had numerous complaints about these experiments.

PETA voiced numerous complaints
about Neurolab — the silliest that “more than 6,000 ‘surplus’ rodents
were used as food for alligators on commercial farms, snakes in pet stores,
and prey for raptors at wildlife rehabilitation centers.” News flash
to PETA — alligators, snakes and raptors regularly kill or maim and
then eat other animals as a matter of course. Apparently PETA needs
to redouble its efforts to convert alligators to veganism.

PETA was also angered by reports
that over half of the baby rats onboard died from maternal neglect. NASA
scientists expected only a few deaths during the mission, but as PETA
put it, “more than 50% of the baby rats have already cruelly been
allowed to starve to death on Neurolab.” In fact astronauts worked
hard to save many of the baby rats who had been abandoned by their mothers.

Finally, PETA’s other major complaint
was that the experiments were completely unnecessary. As PETA put it in
a press release, “The Neurolab experiments are worthless … NASA
has 40 years’ worth of clinical and epidemiological studies on astronauts.
The database from these studies is far more valuable than anything we
could ever hope to learn from stressed out animals in space.” While
nobody disputes the value of data collected from astronauts, there is
still much about the effects of microgravity to be learned
from the Neurolab experiments, with its thousands of animals (which provides a much large sample than the handful of people who have ventured into space).

The most obvious example is the
baby rats that PETA was so concerned about. All of the astronaut data
is on mature adults. The point of putting baby rats in space was to study
the effects of microgravity on neural development. Neurolab’s Mammalian
Development Team will study the baby rats to measure “the effects
of microgravity on developing, maturing neural pathways, according
to a NASA press release.

The Adult Neuroplasticity Team, meanwhile, will
study the neurons of the mature animals to see how well they are able
“to sense and reorganize themselves after being introduced to microgravity,
thus adapting to the animal’s new environment.” Other experiments
will study the effects of microgravity on the internal clocks of rodents
to see how it effects the circadian rhythms of the animals.

Data from
such studies will help scientists better understand clinical conditions
such as vertigo and dizziness that affect millions of people. The studies
of circadian rhythms will provide important data for studying such disorders
as jet lag, insomnia and mental disorders such as winter depression.

PETA’s constant refrain that because
some data about a phenomenon exist, therefore any further data collection
is unnecessary, shows a rank ignorance about scientific investigations.

Sources:

Reuters News Service “Death toll for space shuttle rats unexpectedly high”
April 27, 1998.

Pauline Arrillaga “Rats continue to die aboard space shuttle” The
Associated Press April 28, 1998.

PETA “NASA’s Cruel Neurolab Experiments” Press Release April 1998.

NASA “Neurolab” Press Release April 1998.

March of Dimes celebrates 60th anniversary

One of the groups which Linda and Paul McCartney and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals protested and attacked, the March of Dimes, celebrated its 60th
anniversary in April. Started in 1938 as the National Foundation for Infantile
Paralysis, the March of Dimes led the effort to find a cure for polio.
The group’s efforts culminated with Dr. Jonas Salk’s discovery of a vaccine
for the crippling disease in 1955. With the conquering of polio in the
United States, the March of Dimes turned its focus to the prevention of
birth defects.

As part of that effort, the March
of Dimes sponsors animal research into birth defects and regularly recognizes
outstanding researchers who contribute to humanity’s understanding of
their cause and prevention.

Every year, for example, the March
of Dimes gives a $100,000 Developmental Biology prize to scientists
who advance understanding of embryo development. In 1997 Walter J. Gehring,
Ph.D., professor at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel, Switzerland,
and David S. Hogness, Ph.D., Munzer Professor of Developmental Biology
and Biochemistry at Stanford University School of Medicine, California,
won the prize for their discovery of homeobox genes. Homeobox genes are
the so-called “master architect genes” that regulate and control
fetal development.

Hogness discovered the genes in
1979 and Gehring later isolated the DNA segments of the genes, which exist
in almost identical forms throughout the animal kingdom.

As Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president
of the March of Dimes puts it, “The basic research by Dr. Gehring
and Dr. Hogness provides insight into how living creatures develop and
how development can sometimes go awry. It gives us hope that some day
we may be able to prevent or treat many disabling and fatal disorders.”

Numerous scientists around the
world are now conducting experiments on animals to see how such genes
control specific parts of development, and recently Gehring reported the
isolation of what is believed to be the gene which controls development
of the eye. This is the sort of important knowledge that animal rights
activists would have us forego.

Sources:

Sue Ann Wood
“March of Dimes celebrates 60th anniversary” St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Scripps Howard
April 22, 1998

“March of Dimes Prize in developmental biology
awarded to two scientists who revealed mystery of how living things are built” March of Dimes, Press Release, April 1998.

Linda McCartney, animal rights activist, dies of breast cancer

Linda McCartney, animal rights activist
and wife of ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, died in April from complications related to
breast cancer. She was 56, and one of an estimated 43,500 American women
who will die from breast cancer in 1998.

McCartney campaigned against animal
experimentation, including research sponsored by the March of Dimes to
find the causes and possible cures for birth defects. Her opposition to
animal experiments did not stop McCartney from using the results of such
experiments to extend her own life. Like many women stricken with breast
cancer, McCartney elected to undergo chemotherapy treatments for her cancer
– a technology developed with extensive testing on rodents and other animals.

Contrary to claims made by animal
rights groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, McCartney’s own life is proof that animal
experimentation has led to important medical advances in fighting life-threatening diseases such as breast cancer (it is instructive to note
that in an online tribute to McCartney by PETA, the animal rights organization
conveniently left out that McCartney had died from breast cancer, much
less that she received medical treatments developed through animal experimentation).

With continued support for animal
research, medical science may someday be able to dramatically improve
the survival rates of women with breast cancer and prevent the tragic
deaths of thousands of women.

Sources:

Cal Thomas. “Radical animal rights groups descend on Washington” Los Angeles
Times Syndicate 1997

Florence Shinkle, “Breast cancer’s random approach” St. Louis
Post-Dispatch/Scripps Howard News Service 1998;

PETA web page (http://www.petaonline.com/)
Linda McCartney Tribute April 28, 1998.

Lizards and Lyme Disease

Scientists are hoping experiments
with the western fence lizard might yield a treatment for lyme disease,
a tick-borne illness.

According to an Associated Press
report, it has been known for about a decade that the lizards were immune
to the disease even when infested by ticks. Recent research by Dr. Robert
Lane, published in the Journal of Parasitology, suggests the lizard’s
blood possesses a protein that kills the Lyme disease bacteria.

Lane and other researchers are
now attempting to isolate this protein and find out if there is any possible
application for using it to treat lyme disease in human beings.