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Pro-Test: standing up for science
Pro-Test: Standing Up For Science
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Archives for: March 2008

27/03/08

Permalink 02:55:52 pm, by Tom, 182 words, 2054 views   English (UK)
Categories: News

Pro-Test in the US: Speaking of Research

Pro-Test have now got members out in the US who are willing to go to your institution (school, college, university...etc.) to speak up about the importance of lifesaving research using animals.

Founded by Pro-Test committee member, Tom Holder, Speaking of Research is a new campus-oriented group that seeks to provide university students and scientists with accurate information and resources about the importance of animal research in medical science.

Pro-Test encourages university students who are tired of the half truths and distortions spread by animal rights groups in the US, to organise a debate in their college or school. We are willing to come and help defend lifesaving research in any forum to which we are invited. We are also available to give talks on our experience (and part in) the rise and fall of extremism in the UK, the value of animal research in medicine, and the importance of standing against the lies, harassment and violence of animal rights groups in the US.

Anyone interested should contact Tom Holder:
E-mail: contact@speakingofresearch.com
Phone: 703-395-0646
www.speakingofresearch.com

Cheers

Tom

17/03/08

Permalink 01:05:50 pm, by Tom, 550 words, 1580 views   English (UK)
Categories: Information

Tumour Metastasis: Pieces of the Puzzle

When engaging in discussion about the role of animals in scientific
research I am frequently frustrated by how polarized the debate can be,
with anti-vivisectionists often claiming that animal research has made
little or no contribution to advancing medical science, while
occasionally defenders of animal research seem to imply that animal
research alone was responsible for said advances. The reality is a
little more complex with many approaches, some using animals, some not,
being crucial to the process. A procedure that uses animals might
confirm and extend the findings of an /in vitro/ experiment, and then in
its turn be verified and enlarged upon by a clinical study in man.

A study published in /Nature/ this week by Dr Terumi Kohwi-Shigematsu
and colleagues (1), and picked up by the /Independent/ newspaper
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/gene-discovery-raises-hopes-of-new-treatment-for-breast-cancer-795002.html,
provides a neat illustration of this process in action. Their work
determined that a protein called SATB1, previously identified as a key
factor in driving the expression of genes required for immune system
T-cell development, was also a key player in breast cancer metastasis.
Breast cancer still kills over 10,000 women every year in the UK, the
majority when the cancer spreads from the breast to other tissues.

Dr. Kohwi-Shigematsu's team started by identifying a protein called
SATB1 that was found in cell lines derived from metastatic breast tumour
cells but not in cell lines derived in non-metastatic cells. A screen
of samples from over 1,000 breast cancer patients found that higher
levels of SATB1 in tumour biopsies were associated with a worse
prognosis. These results indicated that higher levels of SATB1 were
associated with metastasis, but not that these higher levels caused
metastasis. After all the higher SATB1 levels could have been a result
of cells becoming metastatic, so they next used RNA interference (RNAi)
to silence SATB1 gene expression in vitro in a metastatic cell line and
found that this caused the cells to grow more slowly and adopt the
characteristics of non-metastatic cells.

At this point they were ready to see what effect different levels of
SATB1 expression had on metastasis in a mouse breast cancer model. In a
series of tests they observed that breast cancer cells expressing SATB1
were far more likely to metastasize and form tumours in other tissues,
and that this metastasis could be blocked by RNAi targeting SATB1,
results that confirmed the key role played by SATB1 in metastasis. They
didn't stop there though, and returned to /in vitro /microarray studies
which demonstrated that SATB1 affects the activity of over 1,000 genes,
notably increasing expression of metastasis-associated genes while
downregulating tumour-suppressor genes.

So where it goes from here? Perhaps the expression of SATB1 will in
future be used as a criterion when deciding whether a patient would
benefit from more aggressive chemotherapy, or maybe SATB1 will itself
become a target for drugs designed to block metastasis. It may even
turn out that a gene whose expression is altered by SATB1 is a more
tempting target for new anti-cancer drugs. What is certain is that with
this very thorough piece of work Dr Kohwi-Shigematsu's team has opened a
promising new avenue for cancer research.

Paul Browne

1) Han H.-J. /et al. /"SATB1 reprogrammes gene expression to promote
breast tumour growth and metastasis." Nature. Vol. 452(7184), Pages
187-93 (2008) PubMed: 18337816.

07/03/08

Permalink 10:19:17 am, by Robin Email , 419 words, 1935 views   English (UK)
Categories: Information

Animal Testing Outdated?.....You have got to be Joking!

One of the most frequent claims made by anti-vivisectionists is that
animal research is outdated science, and can be replaced by in vitro and computational methods. We know that such claims are at best very
premature, and an article by Jonah Lehrer in this weeks edition of Seed magazine shows just how vital animal research is to the most advanced research
http://www.seedmagazine.com/news/2008/03/out_of_the_blue.php?utm_source=SB-bottom&utm_medium=linklist&utm_content=magazine&utm_campaign=internal%2Blinkshare.

The Blue Brain project http://bluebrain.epfl.ch/ is one of the most
ambitious in bioscience world today. It seeks to reverse engineer the
mammalian brain in order to create a biologically accurate, functional
computer model of the brain. Such a model will help us to make sense of the deluge of data being produced in laboratory experiments and clinical research and prove invaluable to improving understanding of neurological diseases and mental health problems.

So where does animal research fit in?

The human brain is an enormously complex organ, and anyone wishing to
simulate it has to deal with many millions of variables, so the blue Brain team started by attempting to simulate a small subunit of the cerebral
cortex known as the neocortical column (NCC), of which there are millions in every brain. They chose to simulate the rat NCC for several reasons.
The rat NCC is structurally and functionally very similar to that in
humans, but contains about one-tenth as many nerve cells, making it a
little easier to simulate. Decades of research on the brains of live rats and rat nerve cells in vitro have yielded an enormous amount of data that was used to make the simulation. Finally it was possible to continually test the output of the computer simulation the live rat brain, which allowed the accuracy of the predictions made by the model to be evaluated and the appropriate corrections made.

The simulation of the rat NCC was completed late last year and will now serve as a template for simulations of the NCC of other species, and as a starting point for simulations of the whole brain.

While the Blue brain project depends on animal research for its success, and will require further animal research as it progresses, it may ultimately reduce the need for animal research in neuroscience by allowing scientists to evaluate their ideas and optimize their tests before they start an animal experiment.

Now what was that about outdated science?

Paul Browne

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