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Pro-Test: standing up for science
Pro-Test: Standing Up For Science
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Archives for: June 2006

25/06/06

Permalink 08:18:00 pm, by admin Email , 361 words, 1838 views   English (UK)
Categories: Information

Nothing to hide, so why hide it?

The press has continued to report Home Office figures showing the total number of animal research procedures has increased for the first time in 14 years, as explained in the previous blog entry. Today, the Oxford Mail asked Oxford University if it would release details of the number of animals used in its laboratories. Its spokesman said:

"We will not be releasing a breakdown of the figures because we are concerned about possible retribution from animal activists."

This is an incredible statement for all sorts of reasons. First, universities simply don't release breakdowns of figures, anyway. The figures are compiled by the Home Office and individual institutions do not publish their own figures. So the remark betrays considerable ignorance.

But more importantly than that, it betrays the University's continued refusal to come out fighting in defence of its academics and the huge contributions they make to science and to society. Months after Pro-Test first urged them to end their ostrich strategy and help make the positive case for animal research, they are still burying their heads in the sand and hoping the problem will go away. It won't, until people are convinced of the positive reasons why they should support continued animal research in the UK.

Pro-Test believes in openness, because scientists have nothing to be ashamed of, and the more information people have, the less ammunition is lent to anti-science campaign groups who can claim that the university has something to hide. We are proud of the work Oxford's scientists do, even if their own university isn't. And finally, saying "we don't want you to know something that will make you attack us", is tantamount to saying the university deserves to be attacked -- the use of the word "retribution" actively concedes that the university is doing something wrong!

Retribution, noun, 1. the act of punishing or taking vengeance for sin or wrongdoing; 2. deserved punishment, especially for sin or wrongdoing; vengeance (Chambers English Dictionary).

It's high time Oxford University ditched this hyper-defensive attitude and proudly stood up for its scientists and the work they do. Their failure to do so is the only "sin or wrongdoing" being committed here.

Originally Posted by Lee.

07/06/06

Permalink 04:23:10 pm, by admin Email , 14 words, 1626 views   English (UK)
Categories: News

Yet another success!

A full write-up of last Saturday's march can now be found on our blog.

06/06/06

Permalink 01:37:56 pm, by admin Email , 315 words, 6057 views   English (UK)
Categories: Information

Whew! More Human Lives Saved by Mice!!

Scientists were testing a new treatment for Hepatitis B, called RNA interference, on a large number of mice, when a large number of them died after treatment.

RNA interference, aka RNAi, is becoming a widely used technique in laboratories. Essentially, what RNAi does is silence genes. It’s a relatively new form of gene therapy. It can be used (and is already being tested in humans in some cases), as a treatment for disease by silencing the genes that cause a particular disease. In today’s case they were trying to silence hepatitis B genes.

Unfortunately they saw rapid liver toxicity in a significant portion of the mice. While this serves as a setback to the scientist’s research, some of the cases were successful in turning off the Hepatitis B genes, and the mice lived.

After reanalyzing the data, the scientists realized that the dosage seemed to be partially related to the toxic effects. It also appeared that a new technique they had employed for delivering the RNAi, may not work as well as they thought, and might in fact be toxic.

So it may be back to the drawing board for the scientists- at least in looking for a new delivery method. But the good news is, some mice did recover. Perhaps with some tweaking, they may find a new way to treat Hepatitis B.

I am thankful that mice were trialed for this treatment. If they hadn’t have been used, it could have been one of us being tested for this new RNAi, and subsequently suffering liver poisoning. Luckily, for every human, the laws allow us to use mice for this purpose, and the mice caught a potentially deadly side effect, before it could be passed for use in humans. Three cheers for lab mice and new medical treatments!

For More Details: New York Times article

Originally Posted by Kristina Cook.

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