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Hundreds of OSU research animals die

Medical research at the Ohio university suffers; incident caused by overheating following power failure

By | July 19, 2006

Medical research at Ohio State University (OSU) suffered a blow last week when overheating at an animal facility following a power failure killed nearly 700 laboratory mice and rats. "Some of these are one-of-a-kind transgenic animals that can't be replaced," said Caroline Whitacre, vice dean for research at the university's College of Medicine. "That's absolutely tragic." The deaths happened at OSU's Graves Hall vivarium, which houses more than 5,000 small animals used in multiple sclerosis, cancer, circadian rhythm, and other studies. The disaster affects the projects of 21 faculty members, said Earle Holland, assistant vice president for research communication at OSU. "Our first priority is to ensure the health and well-being of the remaining animals," he said. "It's going to be a while before we know the long-term effects on them." According to Holland, the problem started at 6.30 p.m. on July 12 with a power outage that affected at least six buildings on the medical campus. One of the two main power lines to the campus had been shut off to connect some construction trailers to the power network, he said. Until power was restored -- between 11.30 p.m. on July 12 and 2 a.m. the following morning -- Graves Hall was dependent on emergency generators, which run the fans but not the air conditioning. "Clearly it was an unforeseen circumstance," Earle said. To make things worse, the building was set up to have the heat come on when the main power failed -- a safety measure used in winter, but normally turned off in summer, according to Whitacre. This might explain why the temperatures in some parts of the facility exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit, even though the outside temperature was barely above 80, she added. Among the victims of the overheated building were transgenic mice being used in Whitacre's research on the progression of multiple sclerosis. "My own research is set back by six months," she said. Graves Hall is one of the oldest of the 19 animal research facilities on the OSU campus. It underwent a million-dollar renovation earlier this year -- including a new power outage alarm that failed to function, according to Whitacre. In a similar incident last April at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo, a brief power outage shut an air compressor off at an animal facility, disrupting the balance between the heating and cooling systems. The temperature in the building shot up to 120 degrees for several hours, killing about 150 mice, rats, and rabbits. OSU's animal research programs have been in the spotlight on a few previous occasions. Last year, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a Washington, DC-based nonprofit that opposes live animal research, filed an unsuccessful lawsuit to obtain videotapes and other materials from an OSU program that teaches scientists how to induce and study spinal cord injuries in laboratory rodents. Earlier this year, in a failed bid to prevent an OSU chimpanzee center from closing, a primate researcher physically chained herself to the gate outside the center. OSU's animal facilities were accredited in 2003 by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Care (AAALAC) International, a Rockville, Md-based nonprofit that offers a voluntary evaluation of animal research facilities worldwide. Among other factors, the accreditation process verifies that the facilities can provide acceptable temperature and humidity conditions for its animal residents, said John Miller, the association's executive director. While accredited facilities have backup options to deal with power outages, a disaster such as the one at OSU, "while not common, is not wildly uncommon," he said. "There could be devastating results from simple things like a stuck valve or a switch in the wrong position -- and it doesn't take long." Chandra Shekhar cshekhar@the-scientist.com Links within this article Ohio State University http://www.osu.edu/ Caroline Whitacre http://medicine.osu.edu/mvimg/1139.cfm OSU College of Medicine http://medicine.osu.edu/ ND Powell et al, "Cutting edge: macrophage migration inhibitory factor is necessary for progression of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis," Journal of Immunology, November, 2005. PM_ID:16237048 OSU's animal facilities http://ular.osu.edu/ Truman State University lab animal deaths http://index.truman.edu/PDF/2004-2005/April21/Page%201.pdf T. Agres, "PCRM denied access to research," The Scientist, March 20, 2006. http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/23239/ A.McCook "Fighting for the right to research," The Scientist, February 28, 2006. http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/23166/ AAALAC http://www.aaalac.org/index.cfm
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Avatar of: Gayle Dean

Gayle Dean

Posts: 3

July 22, 2006

"Currently, nine out of ten experimental drugs fail in clinical studies because we cannot accurately predict how they will behave in people based on laboratory and animal studies." ~Mike Leavitt, Health and Human Services Secretary, USDA press release January 12, 2006\n\nTragedies like the one that killed thousands of lab animals at Ohio State occur frequently because of the systematic indifference and/or negligence of caretakers. \n\nAnimal researchers all insist, of course, that their policy is to treat animals humanely and provide them with the utmost care. But this is just industry propaganda. Abuse and neglect is widespread and well-documented and more of it would be exposed if the records were not so tightly guarded. \n\nMatthew Scully, former special assistant and chief speechwriter for George W. Bush, had this to say in Dominion:,\n\n"In its current form...the AWA [Animal Welfare Act]is a collection of hollow injunctions, broad loopholes, and light penalties when there are any at all..." He adds that our cruelty statutes "address mostly random or wanton acts of cruelty. And the persistent animal-welfare questions of our day center on institutional cruelties, on the vast and systematic mistreatment of animals that most of us never see."\n\nWhen 5000 animals can die because of errors made by university employees and the main concern of researchers is not for the animals lives, but that their research projects have been delayed, then we must ask ourselves some serious moral questions.\n\nAt the very least, since public money funds this research the records should be made public as well. \n\nGayle Dean\n\n\n\n\n\n
Avatar of: Gayle Dean

Gayle Dean

Posts: 3

July 22, 2006

This is a correction to my previous post. The number of animals that reprotedly died was 700, not all 5000 housed at the facility. \n\nSorry for the error.\n\nGayle Dean
Avatar of: Mark Crimaudo

Mark Crimaudo

Posts: 1

July 25, 2006

Major announcement!! Doctors have a cure for M.S., cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.!! Eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and other plant foods, and stay away from animal foods, especially dairy products!! Researchers that do epidemiological (world population) studies have proven that populations which have a primarily plant based diet do not have the diseases that the American population, which relies heavily on foods from animal sources, has. \n\nResearchers who are trying to find a magic pill, by vivisecting mice, or any other species, will never find what they are looking for. The only thing they will accompish is a job security, and making the drug industry richer and more powerful. Diseases, such as cancer and heart disease, develop from many years of stress to a system. You CAN NOT reproduce any disease artificially in any organism, even a human. A common example is cigarette smoking. We all know that it causes emphasyma. And one of the primary causes of cancer is a high fat diet.\n\nThe billions of dollars that are spent on trying to find a magic pill, could instead be used to fund programs and clinics that teach us to eat healthier. Grade schools could use money to bring healthier food into their cafeterias.\n\nPlease do a search on the following names: T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., Neal Barnard, M.D., Michael Gregor, M.D., Michael Klaper, M.D.\n\nPlease let me know if you publish this.\n\n
Avatar of: Gayle Dean

Gayle Dean

Posts: 3

July 26, 2006

Animal researchers insist that animal-testing is vital for finding treatments for the millions with chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. They believe animal sacrifice is morally required to save these sick people. Setting aside whether animal-testing yields good results for treating human disease (and there is a lot of doubt about it), many people accept this moral justification without question. \n\nInevitably, they will say: "I'll bet you sing a different tune when you get cancer!"\n\nBut there is a big ethical problem:\n\nThe diseases that cause most of the illnesses and death in the United States are chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. And these diseases are most often due to lifestyle choices, which means they are largely preventable.\n\nAccording to the American Cancer Society: \n\n"Tobacco use, physical inactivity, obesity, and poor nutrition are major preventable causes of cancer and other diseases in the US. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2006, more than 170,000 cancer deaths will be caused by tobacco use alone. In addition, scientists estimate that approximately one-third (188, 277) of the 564, 830 cancer deaths expected to occur in 2006 will be related to poor nutrition, physical inactivity, overweight, and obesity."\n\nThis means that roughly two-thirds of all cancer deaths are due to lifestyle choices and are preventable. And those estimates don't even include the less deadly afflictions like arthritis, ulcers, cataracts, or common ailments like flus, colds, etc. -- many of which are also caused or exacerbated by diet and lifestyle.\n\nThe American Heart Association agrees that heart disease is "mostly preventable." The American Diabetic Association publishes similar estimates and analysis. In other words, the major killer diseases are largely self-inflicted. \n\nPeople know all this, but they still refuse to stop smoking, change their diets, lose weight, exercise or make other beneficial lifestyle changes. Doctors suggest all these "cures" in a casual way, but they know that most people will not make the recommended changes. As members of the instant gratification generation, people would rather abuse themselves now, and call on doctors later, to prescribe the newest little purple pill or perform the latest heart-bypass procedure to treat problems that could have been prevented in the first place. \n\nThe serious ethical question is this: why should millions of innocent animals be tortured and sacrificed to find treatments for largely self-inflicted diseases in people who refuse to take responsibility for their own choices? \n\nGranted, some people do make responsible lifestyle choices and still get disease. But if we accept scientists' estimates that two-thirds of the major diseases are caused by diet, nutrition, and other lifestyle choices, we could at least significantly reduce animal testing. \n\nThe majority with self-inflicted chronic diseases must face this moral dilemma. It should not just be accepted as a given that when people are irresponsible, animals can be tormented and sacrificed to save them. \n\nWe never hear researchers or animal-testing advocates address this ethical problem. Why not? Well, one answer is that there is not a lot of money in seriously promoting prevention, so doctors and pharmaceutical companies are happy to oblige their patients. An entire mega-industry is supported by this kind of irresponsibility and greed, and it rides on the backs of animals.\n\nGayle Dean\n\n

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