Have animal experiments found a cure for cancer? Maybe. Maybe not.

The hype over Judah Folkman’s
research into the effects of angiostatin and endostatin on mice reached
a fever pitch in the first week of May after The New York Times ran a
front page story which quoted Nobel laureate Dr. James Watson claiming,
“Judah is going to cure Cancer in two years.”

Folkman’s research
is important, but this level of hype was ridiculous. Both of these drugs
are at least a year away from being tested in human beings. Folkman certainly
has a creative approach to stopping cancer. The compounds he’s investigating
work by cutting of the blood supply to cancerous tumors thereby causing
them to shrink and disappear — at least in mice. Chemotherapy research
into mice achieved similar results, but when applied to humans was far
less effective than the trials with mice indicated.

Even if Folkman’s research
doesn’t create a “cure” for cancer, however, what he has
learned from his animal experiments represent important advances in human
understanding of cancer. The idea that the blood supply of cancerous tumors
could be blocked was considered ludicrous when Folkman began working on
the idea; thanks to Folkman’s experiments understanding of cancer
tumors is much improved.


Eric Noonan, “Cancer drugs effective in mice; human testing planned.”
Associated Press, May 3, 1998.

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.


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


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.


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.

Researchers Transplant Genetically Modified Heart Cells from Mice into Pigs

Even when someone survives a heart
attack, significant amounts of muscle tissue die, damaging the heart. The
Associated Press recently reported on a technology which someday may allow
such tissue to be regrown.

The March 17 story described experiments
conducted at the Louisiana State University Medical Center by Dr. William
C. Claycomb. Claycomb sucessfully transferred genetically modified heart
cells from mice into the damaged heart of a pig, where the cells survived
and acted like normal heart muscle, although it is unclear if the mouse
cells actually assisted in the working of the pig heart.

Although any use in humans for
this sort of technology is years, if not decades away, the importance of
this experiment is demonstrating that it is at least possible.

“It is a very important advance,”
said Dr. Kenneth R. Chien, a professor of medicine at the University of
California, San Diego. “The work challenges the dogma that it is
not possible to create a cell line that displays the unique features of
an intact heart.”

Hog Intestines Used to Rebuild Human Knees

James McDonald can walk without
the aid of crutches again thanks to a promising new technology which uses
the intestines of hogs to strengthen weakened human knees. A March 9 Associated
Press story reported that McDonald was the first human being to receive the
still-experimental implant of small-intestinal submucos (SIS), derived
from the small intestines of hogs, into his knee. The intestine replaces
the kneeÂ’s anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

In animal tests, SIS has shown
an ability to stimulate healing and growth of new blood vessels in damaged
tissue. “ItÂ’s exciting because it seems to have the capacity
to stimulate the bodyÂ’s healing response and to modify itself to
whatever environment itÂ’s being used in,” said Dr. Robert Hunter, who performed the surgery on McDonald.

McDonald and 11 other individuals
are being given the implants in Food and Drug Administration-approved
clinical trials to test their safety and efficacy in human beings. If
the trial prove successful, more comprehensive trials are likely and SIS
could have uses beyond mere knee replacement, including applications in
repairing tendons and ligaments and perhaps even replacing human arteries.

SIS avoids the thorny problem of
potential cross-species disease contamination by using a process which
ensures no individual hog cells are transferred to human beings. Animal rights activists have argued that the risk of spreading diseases through such xenotransplantation is unacceptable.