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Thread: Animal Models Not Suitable For Spinal Cord Injury Research

  1. #1

    Rats Useless for SCI Research?

    I just came accross this short article. I wrote down my thoughts in my blog here:

    What do you guys think? Dr. Young, I can understand if this is too controversial for you to comment on, but do you have any relevant links that might be of interest?

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Jason C
    I just came accross this short article. I wrote down my thoughts in my blog here:

    What do you guys think? Dr. Young, I can understand if this is too controversial for you to comment on, but do you have any relevant links that might be of interest?
    PCRM do not represent physicians. At one point, the American Medical Association threatened to censure them. This is a group of people who are collecting millions of dollars from donors and using the money for their questionable activities to stop animal research. The head of PCRM is apparently a partner with the head of PETA. PETA was recently indicted for having abused animals in their shelter.


  3. #3

    Animal Models Not Suitable For Spinal Cord Injury Research

    Animal Models Not Suitable For Spinal Cord Injury Research

    Research on traumatic spinal cord injuries is hampered by a reliance on animal experiments that don't accurately predict human outcomes, says a new study in the upcoming edition of the peer-reviewed journal Reviews in the Neurosciences. The review was written by scientists with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

    "Despite decades of animal experiments, we still don't have a drug to cure spinal cord injury in humans," says Aysha Akhtar, a neurologist with PCRM and the lead author. "According to the Journal of the American Paraplegic Society, at least 22 agents were found to improve spinal cord injury in animals, but not one of these was helpful in humans," says Dr. Akhtar.

    The paper outlines the numerous problems with translating animal data into effective human treatments, including the many variations between laboratory-induced injuries in animals and human injuries, the difficulties in interpreting functional outcomes in animals, and the multitude of inter-species differences in physiology and anatomy.


  4. #4
    Guess scientists will have to start using human guinea pigs.

  5. #5
    Thanks Dr. Young! That's along the lines of what I was assuming. What of this "Reviews in the Neurosciences" publication? Is it recognized at all? I notice they're located in Tel Aviv. Their website looks absolutely horrible though. Wonder if they're some sort of vanity publisher.

  6. #6
    Senior Member shak's Avatar
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  7. #7
    aha, this is what I said in a post long ago.

  8. #8
    I just merged this thread with an earlier one. Let me comment further.

    Most of my career has been spent studying treatments in animal spinal cord injury models. Let me first say that I would be the first to abandon animal spinal cord injury research if I thought that it was unnecessary. But, it is not only necessary but the only thing that gives us hope today that there will be therapies for humans. Let me explain why.

    Many therapies have now been reported to regenerate and restore function in rats with spinal cord injury. So, you ask, why don't we have therapies for people? The reason is that we have not had the funding to take any of the therapies to clinical trial. In fact, the very few times that any of the therapies have been taken to clinical trial, the results have been positive.

    Animal trials, in fact, have accurately predicted the results of human clinical trials. Methylprednisolone was the first neuroprotective drug ever found. Shown in the 1970's and 1980's to improve recovery in animals, three multicenter randomized clinical trials showed that treatment does improve recover in people with spinal cord injury.

    Yes, I know that there have been some clinicians who have been criticizing the use of methylprednisolone for spinal cord injury but they have presented no data whatsoever to would counter the data gathered in three major multicener clinical trials. I would be very happy if some of the critics of methylprednisolone were to actually do a clinial trial for once.

    Several other therapies have gone to clinical trial in the past two decades. One is a drug called GM1 or monosialic ganglioside. In fact, this drug did not have very strong animal data to support its beneficial effects. The human clinical trials reflected this. The results suggested that the drug accelerated recovery but did not change the final extent of recovery.

    Fampridine was a treatment found to improve function in spinal cord injury in my laboratory at NYU. It is a drug that improves conduction in demyelinated axons and only about a third of people with spinal cord injury has sufficient demyelinated axons to benefit from this drug. So, the trials of this drug in spinal cord injury did not succeed because of this. However, the drug turned out to be effective for people with multiple sclerosis where the main cause of neurological loss in. The clinical trials reflected this and we will soon hear whether the second clinical trial of this drug in MS is successful and whether the FDA will approve this drug.

    Cethrin is a drug that was found to facilitate regeneration in animal models of spinal cord injury. A recent clinical trial indeed suggests that the treatment may be beneficial for human spinal cord injury and Alseres the company that acquired the drug from Bioaxone is struggling now to raise the funds to thake this drug into further clinical trials.

    A number of cell transplants have been reported to improve function after spinal cord injury. Despite many attempts to prove that this is so, most clinicians remain unconvinced that any cell transplant is effective. For example, Dr. Hongyun Huang in Beijing has now transplanted olfactory ensheathing glia (OEG) cells into over 700 patients with spinal cord injury. While he has reported some beneficial effects of the drug, he has not yet carried out a randomized controlled clinical trial to show that the effect is significant compared to untreated controls or surgery alone.

    Likewise, many groups around the world are charging exorbitant sums for unproven cell transplant therapies. For example, Beike Biotechnology in Shenzhen has been transfusing human umbilical cord blood cells into hundreds of people with spinal cord injury, charging $20,000-$30,000 for the treatments. Another group in India has been doing the same with what they claim are human embryonic stem cells. There is little or no animal data to support what they are doing.

    Instead of blaming the fact that our government and industry has not been funding spinal cord injury clinical trials, this article is a biased attempt to stop animal research. PCRM is group that has long tried to stop all animal rsearch. Their claims have been rebutted on numerous occasions by the American Medical Association and other groups. They do not represent physicians or scientists. They have never carried out spinal cord injury clinical trials.


  9. #9
    Well, appears to have deleted their article covering this story, so that should tell us something.

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