Monday, December 31, 2007

Miles J. Novy

Miles J. Novy was targeted by apparent animal rights activists on December 6, 2007. Two of his cars were spray-painted; one with “ALF,” and the other with “sadist.”

Afterwards, Dr. Norka Ruiz Bravo, Deputy Director for Extramural Research, National Institutes of Health, issued an official statement calling this “terrorism” and defending Novy’s research.

This essay isn’t about whether or not vandalism should be redefined as terrorism, but instead looks at some of the claims made by Bravo. (I titled it Miles J. Novy because Dr. Bravo's statement is primarily about him and his research.)

Dr. Bravo:
Although the process of labor is better known in species such as the sheep and rodent, what controls the initiation of labor in the human is still unclear. To better understand what occurs in the human, Dr. Novy's research uses monkeys, an animal model closer to that of the human.
This is a very odd statement, and frankly, I have no idea how one might go about validating it. I suspect it’s little more than gibberish. A very large body of knowledge surrounds the process of labor in humans. PubMed returns 1,138 citations for the query “labor AND sheep” and 70,101 for “labor AND human.”

Dr. Bravo:
Dr. Novy's research is fundamentally important to help prevent early preterm delivery that can result in devastating effects on newborn children and their quality of life in later years.
This reeks of fanaticism. No research can be fairly claimed to be fundamentally important prospectively. One can claim after the fact that some discovery was fundamentally important, but claims regarding on-going research must always be couched in could or might or hopefully.

Dr. Bravo:
His current research involves preventing one of the major causes of premature birth: infections associated with preterm labor.
His “current research” has been underway for least 14 years at the time of this writing. (An experimental model for intraamniotic infection and preterm labor in rhesus monkeys. Gravett MG, Witkin SS, Haluska GJ, Edwards JL, Cook MJ, Novy MJ. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1994.) Interestingly, to me at least, is the fact that in this, his first paper on infections associated with preterm labor, he writes as if he has made a possible discovery:
Our data provide evidence for a cause-and-effect relationship between intraamniotic infection and preterm labor and support the utility of measuring interleukin-6 or other cytokines in the diagnosis of intraamniotic infection.
But years before Novy’s “discovery” researchers at Yale, studying human pregnancy, wrote:
These studies implicate IL-6 in the host response to intrauterine infection and suggest that evaluation of AF IL-6 levels may have diagnostic and prognostic value in the management of women in preterm labor.” (Amniotic fluid interleukin 6 in preterm labor. Association with infection. Romero R, Avila C, Santhanam U, Sehgal PB. J Clin Invest. 1990.)
Dr. Bravo:
The importance of this research cannot be underestimated. Premature birth is a serious public health problem.
This is fallacious. Citing the seriousness of a problem fails to justify any and every claim of possible remedy. In fact, in spite of Novy’s long work in this area, Dr. Bravo points out that:
Approximately 12% of all babies are born premature with 2 % of all babies, or approximately 100,000 babies, being born very premature. Regrettably, these very premature babies are associated with the highest mortality and morbidity rates. Ten percent of these babies will die. Fifteen percent of these babies with have serious permanent disabilities such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation, deafness or blindness. Fifty percent of these infants will have a moderate learning disability and 7 % with have a behavioral problem. Besides its human toll, the financial toll for total hospital stays for premature infants is about $15 billion dollars per year and represents approximately half of all infant hospital stays. Furthermore, the economic burden does not end after hospital discharge for those with a disability.
By this measure, Novy’s work seems to have failed quite miserably.

Dr. Bravo:
NIH-supported scientists like Dr. Novy are accountable for protecting the welfare of animals in research from the time they develop their first research plans to the time the research is completed.
This bit of pandering isn’t even very accurate. USDA has reported that the oversight system cited by Dr. Bravo is largely a failure, and the only blinded peer reviewed evaluation of the system has deemed it no more reliable than the flip of a coin.

Dr. Bravo:
Animals are critical to the acceleration of biomedical discovery of medicines, therapies, and cures — threats to research with animals threaten the health of the nation.
This is more fanaticism mixed with a good dose of voodoo. Apparently, some magic occurs by the very act of vivisection -- some bit of magic that maintains the “health of the nation.” If we stop torturing animals in laboratories the sun may not rise.


See too: Miles Novy Targeted for Abusing, Killing Pregnant Primates

Novy's "unanesthetized chronically catheterized maternal-fetal preparations":


Anonymous said...

Ask yourself this question: Do you think it would be possible to find a cure for a sick dog by experimenting on a healthy human baby? Absurd, yes? Just turn it around; vivisection is no less absurd!
Animal experimentation is a disaster for animals and for humans. It is also a waste of our precious health dollars. Most doctors would agree that 80-90% of disease is preventable, yet we only spend 4% of our tax dollars on prevention.
Scientifically, animal experimentation is unreliable because the numerous differences among species is not accounted for in test results. Animal experimentation serves as a vehicle for drug and chemical companies to market dangerous and toxic substances. Vivisection wastes billions of tax dollars and puts mega-profits into the hands of drug companies, taking away from our limited health dollars. What a waste!

Anonymous said...

I stumbled on this blog and impressed with the people applying their critical thinking skills. I myself stayed up these last couple of nights caring for an aged horse.He has a brain tumor.
Granted, there are some stupid researchers out there. I have seen some video that makes me want to puke.
But quess what? Human babies are going to be chopped up in utero when late term abortion is approved. Stem cells!!
Now, for something this forum is not going to be pleased with:
#1 How many of you could prove anything "scientifically"? I see impressive verbage here, but the leaps in logic show that you all can't read the very papers you mention.
#2 Have any of you taken your beloved critters to the vet? Do you even know the history behind the monoclonal assays used to detect heartworms? Don't you realize the tremendous benefits that came via animal research-to human benefit-back to animal? (Yes, indeed I took those science classes instead of english 4000!)
#3Until humans learn to take all of their(expensive) antibiotic pills instead of buying the latest gadget,car or peircing...Our health system will become more strained with resistant bacteria.
#4 Miles Novy did the actual research on almost all of his papers YEARS earlier. He is very wiley about not tipping his hand because the competition for funding is intense. He has to write proposals that are unique, feasable and utilizes the resources he has access to. Can any of you write a grant proposal that will be accepted by NIH?
#5 The truly creative mind can see how one thing can be applied to another situation, then sets about proving it right or wrong. Everyday, we benefit from past theories.
#6 Just because one scientist "proves"a "relationship",does not always show the "how".
#7 If one researcher does prove a connection, IT MUST BE REPEATABLE IN OTHER LABS. Sometimes people will lie, make a mistake or not know that the microscopic fungus that lives in their vent contributed to their success!(If you think I am leapin'...Think about WHY systemic treatments for fungus are somewhat toxic to humans...COULD IT BE THE SIMILARITIES BETWEEN OUR CELL WALLS AND A LOWLY FUNGUS???
#8 I hate sweeping "health care" comments. Again, leaps in logic from some persons who never saw the abuse of our ERs or know how much an electric eel contributed to their test results.
I regret to be so BLUNT but I have an old horse to comfort.
Miles Novy is not the type of researcher you all need to worry about. Study some more, and if you all are real serious about waste in research, there are some real liars and wasters out there. I worked for a scientist who had 4 sets of new pipettors, but made her techs use the crappy innacurate set. She imported her post grads from India instead of hiring US citizens. I would not sacrifice one animal for her science.I quit after 3 weeks of that b.s.
Yes, I am published in a scientific journal. I know Dr. Novy's work and the people who worked with him. Those tether suits are awesome! Every sample taken is treated like gold. The animals are familiar with humans. I have seen more horses, dogs and children mistreated than I EVER saw at ORPRC in the 11 YEARS that I worked there.
Now I work in health care because it pays better. Should we not intubate people because it is invasive and distressing? Should we not give your loved one any drugs to help them beat/recover from illness...because they were all tested on animals first? OR...Should we just skip the testing and pump patients and pets with all kinds of stuff and hope for the best?
I have spent my last 30 years contributing to healthcare for human and animals