June 29th 2021
The news agencies are all abuzz with the recent medical breakthrough of a dissolvable pacemaker (e.g. here, here, and here). We have yet another medical breakthrough thanks to #AnimalResearch, but as can be seen from those reports, news agencies persist in deemphasizing the vital role that research with animals played. We therefore repeat our call for transparent labelling:
Emphasis on a study’s findings with a de-emphasis on how those results were Made Possible by Animal Research #MPAR can only lead to a public that is unaware and unappreciative of how vital a role #AnimalResearch plays in their day to day lives.
What did this study do?
According to the press release, researchers developed a… “thin, flexible, lightweight device [that] could be used in patients who need temporary pacing after cardiac surgery or while waiting for a permanent pacemaker. All components of the pacemaker are biocompatible and naturally absorb into the body’s biofluids over the course of five to seven weeks, without needing surgical extraction.”
Why was this necessary?
Temporary pacemakers consist of an external electrical generator with external leads. Such “hardware” carries an extremely high risk for complications such as infection, potential for dislodging of the device, and where removal of the temporary device when it is no longer needed can lead to laceration and puncturing of the heart and surrounding tissue.
What is missing in the reporting?
First, nowhere in the press release is it mentioned that this breakthrough relied on research #InMice, #InRabbits, #InRats, #InDogs. Secondly, this research was quite a few years in the making—the first study was published in 2018. As a reminder to our readers, however, the #TimeScales from idea, to grant, to research to discovery/invention to publication is often long. Based on the reported grant in the 2018 article (e.g., #CMMI-1450806) this research likely began well before 2014, when a grant was administered. The paper in 2018, relied on research #InRats for proof of principle and in 2021, the medical breakthrough was reported. Thus, in total, well over a decade was spent designing, studying, and refining the device so that it could be safely and effectively used in humans. Moreover, the earlier research likely relied on decades of #BasicResearch #InAnimals which provided information on the anatomy, physiology and other biological functioning aspects related to the heart.
~Speaking of Research