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RESEARCH ETHICS By Kristie Sullivan, M.P.H.

Pharmaceutical and Chemical Testing

Novo Nordisk Ends Live-Animal Use in Quality Testing
Novo Nordisk will no longer use living animals to quality-test batches of biological products coming off production lines. More than 13,000 animals per year were used for the tests in the 1990s. This was reduced to 2,078 animals in 2000 and 772 in 2010. Zero animals will be used for these tests in 2012 because of Novo Nordisk’s efforts to develop and certify nonanimal tests to evaluate product quality. But animals are still used at other points in the development of biological products and other pharmaceutical products. In 2010, for example, the company used 62,152 animals. PCRM will continue to encourage Novo Nordisk and other companies to replace the use of animals in testing.

Novo Nordisk. Novo Nordisk reaches a milestone in animal testing. Available at: Accessed December 14, 2011.

U.S. Government Announces Plan to Replace Animals in Chemical Testing
US Government Announces Plan to Replace Animals in Chemical Testing With High-Throughput Robotics

The Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institutes of Health, and the Food and Drug Administration have announced a joint effort to use high-throughput robotics—instead of animals—to test 10,000 chemicals and drugs for potential toxicity. The robot drops chemicals onto plastic plates with wells that contain human cells. The new program, Tox21, has already screened more than 2,500 chemicals, doing so more accurately—and more quickly—than animal tests. With the new methods, Tox21 may generate more information on chemical toxicity over the next few years than has been generated in the past century.

Biello D. Robot Allows High-Speed Testing of Chemicals. Scientific American. October 13, 2011. Available at: Accessed December 14, 2011.

Medical Training

University of Minnesota Helps Replace Animals in Combat Training

U of Minnesota Helps to Replace Animals in Combat Training

The University of Minnesota will use an $11 million grant from the Department of Defense to improve the training of combat medics, using simulators instead of animals. The university’s goal is to help replace the use of animals for combat training with high-tech mannequins, which are already used in some military training and in the vast majority of civilian trauma training. The simulators will prepare medics to treat critical injuries and trauma routinely seen on the battlefield. They will also be designed to monitor stress responses in combat simulations.

Maura Lerner. U gets $11M grant to improve training of combat medics. Star Tribune. September 21, 2011. Available at: Accessed December 14, 2011.

NUTRITION by Susan Levin, M.S., R.D.


Meat Consumption Linked to DiabetesPeople who eat fewer animal products have less risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Incidence of diabetes was almost four times as high among nonvegetarians, compared with vegans, according to a new study looking at Seventh-day Adventists. The Adventist Health Study-2 looked at 15,200 men and 26,187 women in the United States and Canada who were grouped as vegans, lacto-ovo-vegetarians, pesco-vegetarians, semivegetarians, or nonvegetarians. The lacto-ovo-vegetarian group, pesco-vegetarian group, and semivegetarian group were about twice as likely to develop diabetes, compared with the vegan group.

Tonstad S, Steward K, Oda K, Batech M, Herring RP, Fraser GE. Vegetarian diets and incidence of diabetes in the Adventist Health Study-2. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. Epub ahead of print October 7, 2011. doi:10.1016/j.numecd.2011.07.004.among individuals following therapeutic diets for type 2 diabetes. J Nutr. 2011;141:1469-1474.

Heart Health

Vegetarian Men at Reduced Risk for Heart DiseaseVegetarian Men at Reduced Risk for Heart Disease
Vegetarian men weigh less and have lower cardiovascular disease risk, compared with nonvegetarians, according to a new study in Nutrition and Metabolism. Researchers in China compared 171 vegetarians with 129 age-matched nonvegetarians and found that the vegetarian men’s weight, blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels were lower, compared with the meat-eaters. The vegetarians’ arterial walls were healthier, as well.

Yang SY, Zhang HJ, Sun SY, et al. Relationship of carotid intima-media thickness and duration of vegetarian diet in Chinese male vegetarians. Nutr Metab. 2011;8:63.

Weight Control

Glycemic Index of Foods Influences Weight Loss
Decreasing the intake of high-glycemic foods can help reduce body weight, according to a new article in the Journal of Nutrition. The glycemic index is a measure of how rapidly a given food releases sugar into the bloodstream. In a National Institutes of Health-funded study conducted by PCRM, 99 participants with type 2 diabetes were placed into either a vegan diet group or an American Diabetes Association (ADA) diet group. The vegan diet proved better at controlling blood glucose and cholesterol. After adjusting for various factors such as fiber, fat, and calorie intake, the glycemic index intake predicted weight loss, and weight loss, in turn, predicted lower hemoglobin A1C levels, a measure of sugar levels in the blood over time. The vegan diet group reduced glycemic index intake more than the ADA diet group.

Turner-McGrievy GM, Jenkins DJ, Barnard ND, Cohen J, Gloede L, Green AA. Decreases in dietary glycemic index are related to weight loss among individuals following therapeutic diets for type 2 diabetes. J Nutr. 2011;141:1469-1474.


Mom’s Yogurt Puts Baby at Risk for Asthma
Mom's Yogurt Puts Baby at Risk for AsthmaPregnant women who eat yogurt may put their future children at risk of developing asthma, according to recent research in Denmark. Consuming low-fat yogurt while pregnant is directly linked to the development of childhood asthma and hay fever, and full-fat yogurt is associated with adolescent hay fever. Consuming low-fat yogurt was associated with a 60 percent increase in asthma and an 80 percent increase in hay fever, compared with zero consumption of low-fat yogurt. The 61,912 women who completed the food questionnaire were part of the Danish National Birth Cohort.

Maslova E, Halldorsson TI, Stom M, Olsen SF. Low-fat yoghurt intake in pregnancy associated with increased child asthma and allergic rhinitis risk: a prospective cohort study. Poster presented as part of the European Respiratory Society’s Annual Congress, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 25 September 2011.


Good Medicine: Dog Experiments at Wayne State

Good Medicine

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