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IN DEPTH … Italian researchers have secured a moratorium until the end of 2016, “new regulations are causing long delays in obtaining government authorizations when animal testing is involved. This in turn hinders our international collaborations. It also means we must abandon certain types of research,” adds Garattini. “I see this as a warning to scientists that they will soon have to give up animal testing altogether.” US prospects “Any ban on animal research would pose a serious problem for Europeans, especially when it comes to basic and translational biomedical research,” says Alexander Ploss, a prominent virologist member of the Princeton University (US) IACUC. In the US, all programs involving animal research must first be evaluated by an IACUC, which is set up by the research organization. “Many institutions also try to get accreditation from the AAALAC,12 an independent body whose role is to ensure that regulations are enforced. It is not mandatory, but it helps when it comes to publications and obtaining federal funding,” he adds. “In terms of animal protection, the US was more advanced than countries like France in the 1960s—its Animal Welfare Act dates back to 1966,” says Balansard. “But requirements concerning animal caging, for example, are more stringent in Europe,” he points out. Another significant difference is that the US still allows research on great apes, although the NIH (National Institutes of Health) no longer funds studies on chimpanzees. “This has hindered progress on hepatitis, as there is no other suitable species,” says Ploss. “Public authorities and the NIH are aware that much of this research cannot be done without these animal models, let alone without testing on vertebrates like rats or mice. There is no indication that legislation regarding NHPs will change,” he concludes. Heading East “One of the risks of pushing for harsher legislation is delocalizing research,” says Lachapelle. The destination of choice is China, which already sources the majority of primates for research in Europe and the US. Some centers hold as many as 50,000 animals. “The Chinese are ready for this. And they’re not competing by being cheap. Their facilities are becoming very good, they have started applying international standards and have advertised a lot in the US and Europe,” adds Treue. For international pharmaceutical companies, the country’s legislative stability makes it particularly attractive. Yet “academic research is different,” he points out. “I’m not going to close my lab and move to China. But the outsourcing of certain aspects and individual procedures will increase.” Erwan Bézard, a neuroscientist who runs a Bordeauxbased facility dedicated to Parkinson’s disease,13 was one of the first to outsource part of his research to China. Opened in 1999, his 1500 m2 facility in Beijing now houses 150 rhesus macaques. “One of the problems with research on primates is small sample size, which can limit the statistical reach of certain results,” says Bézard. “I use NHPs in numbers that need to be statistically valid, so China was the logical destination to achieve these numbers. In terms of legislation, it was very rudimentary at the time, but today, the Chinese abide by exactly the same rules as the US in terms of housing standards and animal welfare. My facility has obtained the AAALAC certification and we also apply the 2010 Directive 12. www.aaalac.org 13. Institut des maladies neurodégénératives (CNRS / Université Victor Segalen-Bordeaux-II). 14. P. Tabakow et al., “Functional regeneration of supraspinal connections in a patient with transected spinal cord following transplantation of bulbar olfactory ensheathing cells with peripheral nerve bridging,” Cell Transplantation, 2014. 23(12):1631-55. 15. www.basel-declaration.org 16. Groupe interprofessionnel de réflexion et de communication sur la recherche (www.recherche-animale.org). 17. The European Animal Research Association (EARA) http://eara.eu/home; http://www. understandinganimalresearch.org.uk; Fédération européenne des neurosciences (http://www.fens.org). 22 CNRS INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE © PHOTOS: CNRS


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