The Benefits of Animal Research

This article was written by Liz Hodge.

Most of us like a great steak, but may not want to think about how it arrives on our plate. Similarly, we want medicines, vaccines, antibiotics, surgery and diagnostic tools when we’re sick, but we may not care to know how exactly these treatments make it into our hospitals and pharmacies. Well, chances are, scientists developed them with the help of laboratory animals. Nearly every medical breakthrough involves animal research. From antibiotics to blood transfusions, dialysis to organ transplantation, vaccinations to chemotherapy, bypass surgery and joint replacement, practically every drug, treatment, medical device, diagnostic tool or cure we have today was developed with the help of laboratory animals. Each day, dedicated scientists study animals to find new cures for diseases and conditions that are currently incurable.

Animal research

Cancer Research Blog Carnival #38 Call for Submissions

Highlight HEALTH will be hosting the next edition of the Cancer Research Blog Carnival, edition #38, on Friday, October 1st. As host, I invite you to send your submissions.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Accordingly, the theme for next month’s edition of the Cancer Research Blog Carnival is Breast Cancer.

Twenty five years ago in 1985, the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca founded National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The aim is to promote mammography as the most effective weapon in the fight against breast cancer.

The Link Between Positive Psychology and Cancer Survival

Have you ever heard a person in poor health being told “Well, you’ve got to stay positive, that will help”? This seemingly common idea is currently under significant scientific investigation. Indeed, the debate about the degree to which psychological processes can directly influence physical health has received special attention recently. A special supplement of the Annals of Behavioural Medicine directly addressed this topic in February this year and a recent article in the Lancet explored this issue, cautioning us that the relationship between a positive psychological orientation and cancer survival remains unclear [1].

Alzheimer’s Disease May Protect Against Cancer and Vice Versa

As we get older, and care for our parents as they get older, the most feared age-related conditions we face are arguably Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. But researchers at Washington University have just shown that at least we don’t have to fear both of them at the same time; they recently published a paper in the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology demonstrating that people with Alzheimer’s disease have a significantly reduced risk of being hospitalized for cancer [1].

Feared age-related conditions

This potential link between these two diseases had been noted for some time, but in this study researchers devoted considerable effort to overcoming the limitations in their previous work. Firstly, they used a population-based sample of 3,020 people older than 65, so their results were not limited to a particular geographic area or socio-economic segment of society. Secondly, they used hospital records rather than informant reports to quantify cancer diagnoses. This controlled for the risk that people with Alzheimer’s disease may be less likely to report their cancers than those without. And lastly, to ensure that they were not seeing less cancer in Alzheimer’s patients because physicians were less likely to look for cancer in people with dementia, or because people with dementia simply die earlier than those without it and thereby avoid cancer, they also looked at cancer risk among people with vascular dementia. Vascular dementia is not neurodegenerative in origin; rather, it results from brain damage due to vascular pathology.

Drug for Multiple Myeloma Demonstrated to Significantly Extend Disease-Free Survival

Initial results from a large, randomized clinical trial for patients with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow, showed that patients who received the oral drug lenalidomide (Revlimid, also known as CC-5013) following a blood stem cell transplant had their cancer kept in check longer than patients who received a placebo. The clinical trial, for patients ages 18 to 70, was sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and conducted by a network of researchers led by the Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) in collaboration with the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) and the Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network (BMT CTN). The BMT CTN is co-sponsored by NCI and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, both parts of the National Institutes of Health.