Sunday, September 25, 2011


I don't know how many times I've read dismissals by vivisectors following USDA inspections that the citations were for trivial house keeping problems like a little rust on a door hinge or some peeling paint in a hallway. These PR snow jobs usually include patently fictitious claims that their staff care deeply for the animals (they experiment on and kill.)

An interesting document has come to light that sheds some light on USDA-, OLAW-, and AAALAC-identified ACUC/institution deficiencies in the oversight of experiments using animals.

[For those understandably confused by this alphabet soup, USDA is the United States Department of Agriculture; in this context USDA is shorthand for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the branch of the USDA responsible for inspecting research facilities using animal species covered by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), a federal law. OLAW is the euphemistically-named Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, a unit of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) charged with assuring that institutions receiving grant monies from the NIH are in compliance with the Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and a recently watered-down small book-sized document published by the National Academies of Science (NAS) titled the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (the Guide). AAALAC is shorthand for AAALAC International, or the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International, which describes itself as "a private, nonprofit organization that promotes the humane treatment of animals in science through voluntary accreditation and assessment programs," but is actually an industry support group working to shield institutions with a weak and complicit "accrediting" process from understandable public criticism.]

The document seems to be a handout but is labeled as "notes" from a session of the 2011 PRIM&R's IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee) conference that was held in Chicago. I've transcribed it below; you can view a pdf of the original here. PRIM&R is just another of the many organizations that have sprung up over the years to protect the cash flow from the public coffers into the pockets of researchers and their respective institutions.

This document suggests that, nationwide, the oversight committees aren't doing a very good job, but without knowing how many citations were issued for each of the named problems, it is impossible to know how they are doing overall with any certainty.

Top 10 Deficiencies from the Perspective of USDA, OLAW, and AAALAC

Based on a review of 1,724 citations, USDA reported the following as most frequent violations:

1. Issues, with IACUC Reports on Semi-annual Program Reviews and inspections (reports and inspections not conducted in a timely manner, reports not signed by the majority of the committee, reports not submitted within 15 days)

2. Protocol Reviews (descriptions of procedures incomplete; work performed that is not covered by a protocol)

3. Outdated Pharmaceuticals (present in lab/facility and available for use)

4. Search for Alternatives (search described does not relate to pain/distress or minimizing those; search does not address specific procedures included in protocol)

5. House Keeping (facilities must be clean and in good repair; accumulations of trash have been major concern)

6. Semi-annual Inspections (not done on time - i.e. every 6 months; when a date slides, the schedule should not be reset - i.e. the committee should get back on schedule with following inspection)

7. Access and Inspection of Facilities (must have someone available to allow inspections of records, facilities, and animals; must allow inspectors to take photographs - this is now a requirement of USDA Inspectors in specific situations)

8. Veterinary Care (daily observations to assess health and well being are a must; communications with vets and vet techs must be-timely)

9. Occupational Health/Safety Issues (all staff must be made aware of OHS facilities, personnel, equipment, and services; documentation must be available)

10. Rationale for Involving Animals and Appropriateness of Species and Numbers (most citations are for failure to provide an adequate rationale for using animals)

Based on 4,694 reportable issues (73% in higher education- institutions), OLAW has identified three main groups of related issues:

1. Protocol Issues (failure to follow approved protocols, unapproved significant changes to protocols by PIs, work conducted prior to protocol approval, inadequate PI oversight of protocol implementation, doing work under expired protocols)

2. Husbandry (Inadequate records/inadequate identification of individual animals - i.e. inability to tie records back to specific animals, escaped animals, lack of enrichment)

3. Other (human errors/accidents; natural disasters; equipment failures; training failures; crime, neglect and abuse [this was noted as occurring rarely, but is categorized for reporting purposes within the “other” category])

The OLAW inspector noted that 55% of all concerns with physical facilities related to HVAC systems, and stressed that it is always better to err on the side of reporting as the consequences for reporting are almost always less if the incident results in a penalty (i.e. not reporting results in larger fines).

Based on certification reviews for 800+ institutions, AAALAC reports that the bulk of accreditation denials stem from:

1. Occupational Health and Safety Issues (OHS programs not fully implemented, coordination, inconsistent implementation, risk assessments based on contact time rather than actual risk [e.g. Ebola doesn't require significant contact time but is of high risk], lack of follow up after initial assessments [e.g., for vaccines], lack of safety training for personnel [particularly a concern for student employees])

2. Protocol Reviews (lack of intensity of protocol reviews, lack of clear procedurs or failure of ACUC to follow procedures when doing reviews, inappropriate use of committee alternates, lack of a defined schedule for administration of analgesia, inappropriate/inadequate committee composition)

3. HVAC Systems (significant cause of animal deaths; inadequate maintenance of temperature according to Guide, inappropriate relative air pressure differential, environmental data to complete/not being recorded, inadequate air changes, inability to maintain humidity)

Notes, from session from session D7, PRIMR 2011, Chicago IL attended by Dreux Watermolen, L&S ACUC

Friday, September 23, 2011

Professors London and Jentsch trying to fool the public (again)

> UCLA Newsroom > All Stories > News Releases
Professors London and Jentsch describe their addiction research
By UCLA Newsroom July 25, 2011
This is too ridiculous not to comment on:
What are our ethical principles?

When it comes to animal research, our ethical principles have two dimensions. First, we embrace — not simply accept — the Animal Welfare Act and the regulatory mechanisms that ensure that animal welfare is a key concern in designing and undertaking animal studies. We use the fewest animals possible and the least harmful methods. We do everything possible to avoid causing pain or distress in our studies, and we alleviate it using state-of-the-art methods when we can.

Second, it is our ethical obligation to pursue studies that may alleviate the suffering caused by methamphetamine addiction. Human suffering is real; it is all around us. It is ultimately avoidable, if we understand the problem deeply enough. We believe that people suffering from addictions and the people that love them deserve that every reasonable effort be made to address their problem, and we will, consequently, continue our work.
Here's an excerpt from something I wrote about Jentsch a few years ago:
In a paper from 2008, this monster explains:
Young adult male or female St Kitts green (vervet) monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops sabaeus) at the St Kitts Biomedical Research Foundation (St Kitts, West Indies) were used. As the subjects were feral monkeys, their exact age was not known. These studies were approved by the relevant institutional animal care and use committee. Monkeys, housed individually in squeeze-cages, were injected with PCP twice daily for 14 days, as described before (Jentsch et al, 1997).… John D Elsworth, J David Jentsch, Bret A Morrow, D Eugene Redmond Jr and Robert H Roth. Clozapine Normalizes Prefrontal Cortex Dopamine Transmission in Monkeys Subchronically Exposed to Phencyclidine Neuropsychopharmacology. 2008.
Let’s try to put Jentsch’s PCP injections into context and imagine the situation from the monkeys’ perspective.

First, PCP is almost never injected. It is almost always smoked – sprinkled on tobacco or marijuana, and only very occasionally, snorted like cocaine. But it is almost never injected.

Second, nearly everyone who uses PCP knows they’re using PCP.

Third, the commonly reported recreational dose of PCP is 0.01-0.02 mg/kg.

Jentsch is injecting 15 to 30 times (0.3 mg/kg) the normal recreational dose of PCP into animals, ripped from their families, trapped in cages and being manhandled, who then start having unending nightmarish hallucinations for reasons they can’t imagine. And this goes on for two weeks, prior to them being killed.
And here's a bit of something I wrote about London a few years earlier:
Before considering her work, consider this:
For example, since smokers extract about 1 mg of nicotine per cigarette, a 1 pack per day (20 cigarettes per day) smoker likely receives near 100 percent nicotine replacement using a 21-mg/day patch. However, this patch dose likely underdoses heavier smokers, and higher nicotine doses (44-mg/day) have been shown to provide better relief from withdrawal symptoms and to increase short-term efficacy.” Randolph C. Barrows, Jr., M.D. SMOKING CESSATION (Chapter 3)
And here's a description of some of what she's doing to monkeys:
Two gonadally intact adolescent (4–5 years old) male rhesus monkeys (Macacca mulatta, 8.9 and 7.7 kg) participated in the studies. Monkeys were housed individually in temperature- and humidity-controlled rooms maintained on a 12 h light/dark schedule with lights on at 7:00 A.M. Monkeys were fed Monkey Diet Biscuit daily after each experimental session and were weighed biweekly. They participated in a psychological enrichment program. The animal protocol was approved by the Yale and Veterans Administration Animal Care and Use Committees and is in compliance with United States Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals

Nicotine was administered orally using the dose escalation paradigm described previously (Pietila et al., 1998 ). Nicotine (Sigma, St. Louis, MO) was administered in a saccharin–Kool-Aid (Kraft Foods, Northfield, IL) solution as the sole source of fluid on a daily basis (with the exception of days of nicotine withdrawal before each scan and also for the day of and immediately after the scan). During weeks 0–4, the animals increased their average nicotine consumption from 3.3 to 37.5 mg/kg. During the last 5–8 weeks of the study, the animals' average daily nicotine consumption was 30–38 mg/kg. After 6 and 8 weeks, the nicotine solution was removed and the monkeys had access to water.” Edythe D. London et al. Human tobacco smokers in early abstinence have higher levels of beta2* nicotinic acetylcholine receptors than nonsmokers. J Neurosci. 2006.
So, during the final 3 weeks of the study, the larger of the two monkeys was being administered the equivalent of more than 13 packs a day (8.9 kg X 30--38 mg = 267 mgs) to almost 17 packs of cigarettes a day (8.9 kg X 38 mg = 338.2 mg).

The smaller monkey was being administered the equivalent of between about 11 packs a day and 14 packs a day.

“Such tactics are beyond contemptible, have no place in a civilized society …” says UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. Of course, Block is talking about flooding her mansion, not forcing the monkeys to drink nicotine-laden Kool-Aid.

People of Jentsch and London's evil ilk simply can't be trusted around animals. It's like letting serial sexual offenders run after-school programs for grade school kids.