Tag: animal welfare

Bioethics Blogs

Research Ethics Roundup: Creating Data Donation Systems, Late-Stage Trials and Drug Costs, Using Drones for Animal Research, USDA Reacts to Public Criticism

This week’s Research Ethics Roundup highlights the argument for treating medical data donations like organ donations, bioethicists’ suggestions for how to lower drug costs, how Australian animal researchers are using unpiloted drones, and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s decision to re-publish a portion of the Animal Welfare Act records that they previously removed.

The post Research Ethics Roundup: Creating Data Donation Systems, Late-Stage Trials and Drug Costs, Using Drones for Animal Research, USDA Reacts to Public Criticism appeared first on Ampersand.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Research Ethics Roundup: The President’s Plan for FDA Regulations, Requiring Efficacy Data Earlier, USDA Removes Research Records, and FDA’s Phase Three Report

This week’s Research Ethics Roundup covers President Trump’s call for removing a majority of FDA regulations, the argument for calling for efficacy data before human research begins, USDA’s decision to remove Animal Welfare Act records, and FDA’s case for conducting phase three testing.

The post Research Ethics Roundup: The President’s Plan for FDA Regulations, Requiring Efficacy Data Earlier, USDA Removes Research Records, and FDA’s Phase Three Report appeared first on Ampersand.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

What to Make of Those Animal-Welfare Labels on Meat and Eggs

Shoppers buying a dozen eggs these days not only have to decide whether they want organic, free-range or cage-free. They also have to choose among cartons with labels like “American Humane Certified,” “Animal Welfare Approved” and “Certified Humane.”

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

In The Journals – November by Christine Sargent

Hello trusty readers. Check out November’s haul for “In The Journals,” and be sure to check out the special issue of Science, Technology, and Human Values: Feminist Postcolonial Technosciences.

 

American Ethnologist:

Memory, body, and the online researcher: Following Russian street demonstrations via social media (open access)

Patty A. Gray

The Moscow street demonstrations of 2011–12 were the largest public gatherings in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. They were also the largest-ever gathering of Russians on social media. While using the Internet to follow such large-scale social movements remotely, researchers experience social media as a context in which anthropology happens. They may think about “being there” in new ways that shift their focus to their own processes of memory making and sense of bodily presence. Experiencing and remembering social media in the body challenges the distinctions we might otherwise make between virtual and physical encounters.

Royal pharmaceuticals: Bioprospecting, rights, and traditional authority in South Africa

Christopher Morris

The translation of international biogenetic resource rights to a former apartheid homeland is fostering business partnerships between South African traditional leaders and multinational pharmaceutical companies. In the case of one contentious resource, these partnerships are entrenching, and in some instances expanding, apartheid-associated boundaries and configurations of power. The state and corporate task of producing communities amenable to biodiversity commercialization and conservation is entangled with segregationist laws and spatial planning. Rather than exclusion and the closure of ethnic boundaries, resource rights in this context foreground forced enrollment and the expansion of indigenous group-membership as modes of capitalist accumulation in an extractive economy.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Genome editing – the key ethical issues

Written by Dr Christopher Gyngell

This article originally appeared on the OMS website

The Nuffield Council of Bioethics released a report last Friday outlining the key ethical issues raised by genome editing technologies.

Genome editing (GE) is a powerful, and extremely rapidly developing technology. It uses engineered enzymes to make precise, controlled modification to DNA. It has the potential to radically transform many industries, including medicine, agriculture and ecology.  Despite only being developed in the past few years’, GE has already been used to create malaria-fighting mosquitoes, drought resistant wheat, hornless cows and cancer killing immune cells. The potential applications of GE in a decade are difficult to imagine. It raises a wide range of ethical issues that require careful scrutiny.

The Nuffield Council of Bioethics has formed a working group to analyse these issues. Their report titled “Genome editing: an ethical review”, is the first output of this working group.  It is a mapping project which identifies the major ethical issues arising from GE.

The report identifies several areas of GE that raise pressing ethical issues.  GE for human reproduction, and GE in livestock, are classed as requiring ‘urgent’ attention. GE for the purposes of xenotransplantation, and to alter wild populations of mosquitoes (and other disease causing animals), are classed as requiring attention ‘in the near future’.

It is unsurprising that genome editing for human reproduction is listed as requiring urgent attention. It has been at the centre of public debates about GE since scientists used the technology to alter human embryos for the first time last year.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Judge Clears 7 Chimps for Departure. They’re Off to England

For almost two years, the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University has been working to send seven chimpanzees to a zoo in England, prompting the outrage of several animal welfare and conservation groups because the zoo is unaccredited and there are American sanctuaries ready to accept the chimps

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

The Costs of Chimpanzee Research

Andrew Fenton shares a cautionary tale about the Liberian chimpanzees who were abandoned after being used for vaccine research.

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You might have read about the end of publicly-funded invasive research on chimpanzees in the United States and thought that the fight to protect these laboratory great apes was over. The story of what has happened to a little over 60 chimpanzees living on six islands in a river estuary in southern Liberia serves as a reminder that it isn’t over yet.

These chimpanzees are not there by choice nor can the islands they live on support their nutritional needs. They are a legacy of Vilab II, a facility in southern Liberia that was run by the non-profit New York Blood Center, where chimpanzees were used in vaccine research. The original chimpanzees were procured from the illegal ‘pet’ trade or taken by force from free-living communities before being bred for research. Vilab II stopped experimenting on chimpanzees in 2005. The surviving chimpanzees were moved to the six islands. After supporting their care for about ten years, the New York Blood Center abandoned the chimpanzees.

The official reasons for ceasing support include: as a non-profit organization, their funds are “best used” to fund research that might benefit humanity (not care for a population of ex-biomedical chimpanzees); they did their bit for these chimpanzees and it’s unreasonable to think that they’re on the hook for their care in perpetuity; they’ve tried to find alternate means of support but talks with interested parties, including the Liberian government, have failed; and they actually don’t own these chimpanzees—they’re property of the Liberian nation—and the property owners are properly responsible for their care.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Veterinarians and the best interests of animals

By Charles Foster

English law has traditionally, for most purposes, regarded animals as mere chattels. There is now animal welfare legislation which seeks to prevent or limit animal suffering, but provided that legislation is complied with, and that no other relevant laws (eg those related to public health) are broken, you are free to do what you want with your animal.

Veterinary surgeons are in an interesting position. The UK regulatory body for veterinarians, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (‘RCVS’) publishes a Code of Professional Conduct. This provides, inter alia:

‘1.1  Veterinary surgeons must make animal health and welfare their first consideration when attending to animals.’

‘2.2  Veterinary surgeons must provide independent and impartial advice and inform a client of any conflict of interest.’ 

‘First consideration’ in 1.1 is a rather weasly formulation. Does it mean that it is the overriding consideration, trumping all others, however weighty those others might be? Or the one that veterinarians ought to consider first, before moving on to other criteria which might well prevail?

The RCVS also publishes Supporting Guidance. The relevant guidance is that relating to ‘Veterinary Care’:

‘2.2  Veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses are personally accountable for their professional practice and must always be prepared to justify their decisions and actions.  When providing care, veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses should: 

(c)…. make decisions on treatment regimes based first and foremost on animal health and welfare considerations, but also the needs and circumstances of the client; 

(d) recognise the need, in some cases, to balance what treatment might be necessary, appropriate or possible against the circumstances, wishes and financial considerations of the client*…..

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Ethical aspects of research with chimera embryos

Vardit Ravitsky highlights a few ethical issues with human-nonhuman chimera research.

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Assessing the potential benefits and risks of innovative health research is often a complex task. The higher the stakes, the more daunting such analysis becomes. This is the case with research on human-nonhuman chimera embryos, where human pluripotent stem cells (that can potentially develop into any kind of tissue or organ) are introduced into non-human embryos at a very early stage. These cells can replicate and then specialize, potentially being expressed in any part of the nonhuman animal as it develops, creating an organism that is part human and part nonhuman.

The potential benefits of human-nonhuman chimera research are immense. Such embryos, and the part-human animals that may develop from them, can be used to study human development, shed light on infertility, inform disease models, and test new drugs. If successful, this research might even lead to growing human organs inside nonhuman animals’ bodies that would be compatible with individual patients in need of an organ for transplantation. In light of ongoing organ shortages, chimera research could be a game changer for thousands of patients awaiting life-saving organs.

At the same time, the risks are significant. The effects of pluripotent human stem cells on organs and tissues in the chimeric animal are uncertain. Cells can go ‘off target’ and be expressed in an unintended part of the nonhuman animal’s body. There are, for example, concerns about the possibility that chimeric animals may develop human sperm and eggs, so that if two such animals breed with each other they might produce viable human embryos carried inside non-human animals.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Human-pig ‘chimeras’ may provide vital transplant organs, but come with ethical dilemmas too

Growing human organs in pigs mean they’re doing our dirty work for us.

Organ transplantation is one of modern medicine’s success stories, but it is hampered by a scarcity of donor organs. Figures for the UK published by the NHS Blood and Transport Service show that 429 patients died in 2014-2015 while awaiting an organ. What’s more, many of the 807 removed from the waiting list will have been removed because they became too ill to receive an organ, and are likely to have died as a result.

So while there is a strong ethical imperative to increase the supply of donor organs, many of the methods tried or proposed – presumed consent, allowing organs to be bought and sold, and using lower-grade organs such as those from donors with HIV – are themselves controversial. And even if we accept these approaches it’s unlikely they will be sufficient to meet the demand.

Gene editing techniques such as CRISPR could provide the answer. These techniques allow us to make precise changes in the DNA of living organisms with exciting prospects for treating disease – for example by modifying human DNA to remove genes that cause disease or insert genes associated with natural immunity to conditions such as HIV/AIDS. However, gene editing the DNA of animals could prove equally important for the medical treatment of humans.

Scientists are now working on a technique that would allow human organs to be grown inside pigs. The DNA within a pig embryo that enables it to grow a pancreas is deleted, and human stem cells are injected into the embryo.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.