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I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).
Here is what's new this week in To Your Health — a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM — that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will no longer do invasive research on chimpanzees and is retiring a colony of chimps it kept in reserve for biomedical studies, reports a story recently published in Science.
Kathleen Conlee, the vice president of animal research issues at the Humane Society of the U.S., told Science, the decision is (and we quote) 'amazing and historic news' (end of quote).
Sciencereports NIH's decision ends generations of biomedical research on chimpanzees, who provided a model for life saving research in human infectious diseases and other areas.
Sciencereports the decision applies both to a colony of about 50 chimps that NIH once planned to keep in reserve for research as well as NIH supported, chimpanzee-based studies in other locations.
NIH's director Francis Collins M.D. told Science (and we quote) 'I think it is the natural next step in what has been a process over the last five years, really, of deep thinking about the appropriateness of research on our closest relatives, the chimpanzees' (end of quote).
Collins added NIH has not received grant applications that use chimps in recent years. Collins said (and we quote): 'Given this complete absence of interest in a space now approaching three years, I think it is fair to say the scientific community has come up with other ways to answer the kinds of (research) questions they used to ask with chimpanzees' (end of quote).
NIH has asked grantees that currently do research on chimps to plan the animals' future retirement. Scienceexplains there is a U.S. government-run sanctuary for retired research chimps in Keithville, LA.
Otherwise, NIH's announcement gives us the opportunity to mention one of our favorite health topic pages within MedlinePlus, which provides information on animal diseases and human health. MedlinePlus.gov's animal diseases and your health health topic page provides some basic information about animal disease risks for adults and children (which is provided by the American Veterinary Medical Association) within the 'start here' section.
Some well-written, specific counsel about pet infections that can adversely impact kids (from the Nemours Foundation) also is available in the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's animal disease and your health health topic page
MedlinePlus.gov's animal disease and your health health topic page additionally provides specific information about health risks from house pets, such as dogs, cats, and birds, within the 'specific conditions' section. Similar information about farm animals, horses, and bats also is available within the 'specific conditions' section.
MedlinePlus.gov's animal disease and your health health topic page also provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the 'journal articles' section. You also can sign up to receive updates about animal diseases and human health as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.
To find MedlinePlus.gov's animal diseases and your health health topic page, please type 'animal health' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'Animal diseases and your health (National Library of Medicine).' MedlinePlus.gov also has specific health topic pages on some animal-to-human diseases, such as lyme disease, bird flu, West Nile Virus, and rabies as well as pet health.
I should note it seems to suit the spirit of the season to report that recent scientific advances now preclude the need to use chimps in biomedical research.
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