Entries in NIH (3)


NIH Limits Chimp Research

Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte(WASHINGTON) -- The National Institutes of Health will curb its use of chimpanzees in medical and behavioral research, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins announced Thursday.

Collins said in a news conference that the agency would temporarily bar all new research projects using chimpanzees, and that all current projects involving the primates would be evaluated.

 The announcement came after an Institute of Medicine  report issued on Thursday that called for strict limits on the use of chimpanzees  – the closest genetic relatives to humans — in medical and behavioral research.

In its report, the IOM said experiments on chimpanzees had not advanced research enough to justify their continued use in invasive experiments.

“The committee concluded that research using animals that are so closely related to humans should not proceed unless it offers insights not possible with other animal models and unless it is of sufficient scientific or health value to offset the moral costs,” Jeffrey Kahn, chairman of the IOM committee,  said in a news release. ”We found very few cases that satisfy these criteria.”

Of the nearly 1,000 chimpanzees currently housed in U.S. research facilities, the NIH owns 612 of them. Collins said many of those animals are not involved in research currently.  

The NIH will begin reviewing the 37 federally funded projects that involve chimpanzees. Collins estimated that 50 percent of the projects will not meet the IOM’s criteria and will be phased out or ended immediately.

Chimpanzees are viewed as more accurate models for how diseases and treatments develop in people than other animals, such as mice.

But because chimps share some behavioral characteristics with humans, many scientists and animal rights activists have concluded that experimenting on them is unethical.

Scientists have used chimps to develop vaccines and treatments for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, and the IOM report said private research companies have used the animals to test drug safety and efficacy.

The U.S. is one of only two countries that conduct invasive research on chimpanzees; the other is Gabon in central Africa.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


The Impact of a Government Shutdown on NIH Clinical Trials

Comstock/Thinkstock(BETHESDA, Md.) -- Clinical trials involving new drugs to help cure diseases such as cancer, including cancer in children, will be stopped or slowed by any government shutdown, a spokesman for the National Institutes of Health said on Wednesday.

A shutdown would mean no new studies will be started at NIH, where everyone is a federal employee.

At the NIH Clinical Center there are currently seven new procedures, or protocols, scheduled to start next week that will not begin if the government shuts down over the weekend.

Ongoing studies at the NIH Clinical Center will not admit new patients, according to John Burklow, associate director for communications and public liaison at NIH, which “will delay the completion of all studies currently active at the Clinical Center.”

Burklow says there are approximately 640 clinical trials (and 1,443 variations, or protocols, within those clinical trials) at the Clinical Center that will stop admissions of new patients. Of the 640 clinical trials that will stop admitting new patients, 285 are for patients with cancer and 60 involve children with cancer.  

One new patient -- a child from a poor family with a rare disease -- was supposed to visit NIH on Monday to be added to a clinical trial, and had made special arrangements including traveling to NIH on a Miles for Kids program on Sunday. But none of this will happen if there’s a shutdown: no new patients, after all.

It’s unclear how a shutdown would impact other ongoing clinical trials outside the NIH campus, with NIH grants, since the doctors and other assistants are not federal employees.

But new trials will be stopped, including the phase III study of a promising new cancer drug -- Anti-CTLA4 -- at the Philadelphia’s Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group. That study will not be able to start on schedule if the government runs out of money, which will happen Friday night unless a deal is struck.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Higher Cancer Risk Continues After Chernobyl

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(BETHESDA, Md.) --  A new study from the National Institutes of Health finds the risk of thyroid cancer for those exposed to the fallout of Chernobyl has not yet to decline.

Nearly 25 years after the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, exposure to radioactive iodine-131(I-131, a radioactive isotope) from fallout may be responsible for thyroid cancers that are still occurring among people who lived in the Chernobyl area and were children or adolescents at the time of the accident, researchers say.

An international team of researchers led by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health found a clear dose-response relationship, in which higher absorption of radiation from I-131 led to an increased risk for thyroid cancer that has not seemed to diminish over time.

The study, which represents the first prospective examination of thyroid cancer risk in relation to the I-131 doses received by Chernobyl-area children and adolescents, appeared March 17, 2011, in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

"This study is different from previous Chernobyl efforts in a number of important ways. First, we based radiation doses from I-131 on measurements of radioactivity in each individual's thyroid within two months of the accident," explained study author Alina Brenner, M.D., Ph.D., from NCI's Radiation Epidemiology Branch.  "Second, we identified thyroid cancers using standardized examination methods. Everyone in the cohort was screened, irrespective of dose."

The study included over 12,500 participants who were under 18 years of age at the time of the Chernobyl accident on April 26, 1986, and lived in one of three Ukrainian oblasts, or provinces, near the accident site: Chernigov, Zhytomyr, and Kiev.  Thyroid radioactivity levels were measured for each participant within two months of the accident, and were used to estimate each individual's I-131 dose.  The participants were screened for thyroid cancer up to four times over 10 years, with the first screening occurring 12 to 14 years after the accident.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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