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RESEARCH ETHICS By Kristie Stoick, M.P.H., and John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C.
ALTERNATIVES TO ANIMAL RESEARCH
Human Tissues at the Forefront of Cancer Research
This fall, onCore UK was launched in the United Kingdom with the mission of improving cancer research by using tissues from people with cancer. “Samples of tissue and body fluids from patients are fast becoming the cornerstone of cancer research,” says professor Herbie Newell of Cancer Research UK.
OnCore’s mission is to make it easier for cancer patients to donate tissue for research, and the organization has a new, user-friendly Web site designed to educate patients. The site also contains a section for researchers, making it easier for them to find out how to use human tissue in their research.
In the United States, the National Cancer Institute coordinates similar efforts. The growing ease and popularity of the use of human tissues stands to make cancer research more effective by shifting focus away from the development of animal “models.”
OnCore UK Web site. Available at: www.oncoreuk.org. Accessed Nov. 19, 2007.
Test-Tube Model Reduces the Use of Dogs in Canine Arthritis Studies
Researchers led by professor James Cook at the University of Missouri-Columbia’s Comparative Orthopedic Laboratory have developed a test-tube model of canine osteoarthritis that uses tissues recovered from surgical specimens and cadavers. Reported in the summer 2007 issue of Current Rheumatology Reviews, the model was shown to have biochemical, histological, and mechanical features similar to spontaneously occurring joint disease. The model will allow researchers to study the safety and effectiveness of nutritional supplements, treatments, or even physical exercise characteristics. “These in vitro models will allow us to perform our research without using animals while still accurately mimicking situations in real life,” says Dr. Cook.
The key to the success of the model lies in its “co-culture” construction. Co-cultures are preparations of two or more tissue types in one dish or tube, and are becoming more popular as the importance of “crosstalk” between different types of cells and tissues is more fully understood. This research could improve scientists’ abilities to treat dogs with joint disease. Similar procedures may be helpful for humans.
Cook JL, Kuroki K, Stoker A, Streppa H, Fox DB. Review of in vitro models and development and initial validation of a novel co-culture model for the study of osteoarthritis. Current Rheumatology Reviews. 2007;3(3):172-182.
Congress Considers Higher Fines for Mistreating Animals in Laboratories
This fall, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a provision attached to its version of the Farm Bill that would increase the maximum fine a laboratory could be charged for violating the Animal Welfare Act, from a little over $3,000 to $10,000. The change was introduced by Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), who says that current fines for violations are “negligible for large research institutions.”
Quill E. Congress considers higher fines for mistreating laboratory animals. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Oct. 26, 2007. Available at:chronicle.com. Accessed Oct. 29, 2007.
NUTRITION By Dulcie Ward, R.D., and Susan Levin, M.S., R.D.
Whole Grain Intake Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
A recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health tracked the diets and health of 161,737 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Studies I and II. It turned out that those who made whole grain foods a big part of the menu had the lowest risk of type 2 diabetes. The researchers then conducted a meta-analysis to combine the results of five previous studies. On average, every serving of whole grains that is part of a person’s daily diet cuts diabetes risk by about 10 percent. Whole grains include such foods as whole wheat, rolled oats, brown rice, buckwheat, and quinoa.
De Munter JSL, Hu FB, Spiegelman D, Franz M, van Dam RM. Whole grain, bran, and germ intake and risk of type 2 diabetes: a prospective cohort study and systematic review. PLoS Med. 2007;4(8):1385-1395. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040261. Accessed November 9, 2007.
Atkins Diet Harms Blood Vessels
Researchers at the University of Maryland Hospital in Baltimore compared three popular diets and their effects on health. The Atkins, South Beach, and Ornish diets were tested in 18 adults who completed one month on each diet. The Atkins diet, which derives about 50 percent of calories from fat, caused LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, to increase by an average of 15.4 points (mg/dL). The South Beach diet, a 30 percent fat diet, reduced LDL by 10.2 points, and the Ornish diet, which derives 10 percent of calories from fat, reduced LDL cholesterol by 25.5 points. In addition, the Atkins diet reduced blood vessel dilation and increased inflammation associated with blood clots, possibly causing long-term damage to blood vessels.
Miller M, Beach V, Mangano C, et al. Comparative effects of 3 popular diets on lipids, endothelial function and biomarkers of atherothrombosis in the absence of weight loss. Study presented at: American Heart Association’s Scientific Session; Nov. 6, 2007; Orlando, Fla.
Carbohydrates Associated with Weight Control
In a review published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, an exercise physiologist at the University of Virginia assessed the effects of carbohydrate quantity and quality of weight control. The author found that the more carbohydrate the participants ate, the lower their body weight. Both whole and refined grains were found to be inversely related to body mass index, although this relationship was more pronounced with whole grains. Reasons provided include the link between high-carbohydrate diets and improved dietary quality, especially higher intakes of dietary fiber. The author concludes that low-fat, high-fiber diets without emphasis on calorie restriction help sidestep adherence problems and may be best for overall health and weight control.
Gaesser GA. Carbohydrate quantity and quality in relation to body mass index. J Am Diet Assoc. 2007;107:1768-1780.
Western Diet Linked to Birth Defects
A new study from the Netherlands that analyzed the diets of 381 mothers found that a Western diet may be linked to birth defects. Those women with a “Western dietary pattern,” characterized by high intakes of organ meat, red meat, processed meat, pizza, legumes, potatoes, French fries, condiments, and mayonnaise but low intakes of fruits had a higher risk of a cleft lip or cleft palate among their offspring. Women who consumed the greatest amount of these foods had nearly double the risk compared with those who consumed the least.
Vujkovic M, Ocke MC, Van der Spek P, Yazdanpanah N, et al. Maternal Western dietary patterns and the risk of developing a cleft lip with or without a cleft palate. Obstet Gynecol. 2007;110:378-384.