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.

Source:

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

Animal rights terrorist on the run

Josh Ellerman, 19,
disappeared shortly before he was scheduled to be sentenced for his part
in a March 11, 1997 attack on the Fur Breeders Agricultural Cooperative.

Ellerman reached a plea agreement
with prosecutors whereby he plead guilty to 3 of 16 felony counts in exchange
for cooperating with investigators in identifying other members of the
animal rights terrorist group, the Animal Liberation Front.

According to Ronald J. Yengich,
Ellerman’s defense attorney, Ellerman fled after receiving threats
from the ALF. Ellerman fled his home without a change of clothes, money
or a car.

Animal rights terrorists strike in Florida

On May 4th a two alarm fire
destroyed a veal processing plant near Tampa, Florida. Police believe
members of the Animal Liberation Front were responsible for the fire,
which did $500,000 in damage.

“A.L.F.” had been
spray-painted on the side of the plant.

A communiqué from a group identifying
itself as the Florida ALF claimed responsibility for the attack saying,

…the action was done on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of calves
every year in the American veal industry who are kept in isolation, denied
freedom of movement and fed a deliberately unhealthy diet for the entirety
of their short lives until they are slaughtered at a hell like Florida
Veal Processors.

The communiqué also claimed
the Florida ALF was responsible for an October 1997 arson at Palm Coast Veal
Corp. in Lauderhill, FL.

Sources:

Florida A.L.F. “Florida A.L.F. Communiqué” May 4, 1998.

Americans for Medical Progress “ALF suspected in veal plant and USDA
arson; ALF press officer surfaces.”

PETA’s Internet hypocrisy

A couple years ago there was an enormous flap over an opponent of animal rights who registered the peta.org domain, claiming he represented People Eating Tasty Animals. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals whined and moaned about the peta.org site and threatened to sue the owner of the domain. Eventually the domain was suspended, and PETA currently uses petaonline.org.

So now it is 1998 and what is PETA doing? ThatÂ’s right, deceptively registering domain names associated with their opponents. Recently it registered ringlingbrothers.com and posted information on that web site accusing Ringling Brothers of mistreating animals. Just as PETA did a few years ago, Ringling Brothers filed a lawsuit demanding PETA stop using the domain name.

On May 14, Ringling Brothers agreed to drop the lawsuit in exchange for PETA transferring control of ringlingbrothers.com to the circus. Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA, didnÂ’t sound all that disappointed to see the domain name go saying, “The site had served its purpose. Ringling had brought all the attention in the world to it.”

Sorry Newkirk, but the only thing highlighted by this fiasco is PETA’s own hypocrisy.

Source:

“PETA agrees to turn over domain name to circus,” Associated Press,
May 14, 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.