Of mice and mint: Animal research uncovers a previously unknown role for menthol in tobacco addiction

Cigarette addiction remains one of the common forms of drug addiction, worldwide; it is associated with remarkably elevated risk for heart disease, stroke and multiple types of cancer, explaining why nearly half a million Americans die each year from complications of smoking. A recent study by Brandon Henderson and his colleagues at the California Institute … Continue reading Of mice and mint: Animal research uncovers a previously unknown role for menthol in tobacco addiction

Camron Bryant: Triangulating the genes leading to binge eating

The following post is the first in a series of question and answer exchanges with biomedical researchers about recent high-impact neuroscience discoveries from their labs. Animal research will be central to many of these posts, with the goal being to explain the importance and implications of this research. We welcome suggestions for future posts, which … Continue reading Camron Bryant: Triangulating the genes leading to binge eating

Animal rights campaigns: When free speech takes a hideous turn

An important principle of American democracy is that the free exchange of ideas is crucial to social progress. We accept that protected speech can be often be ugly, provoke social unrest and include acts of civil disobedience. Yet, as far as possible, we must ensure that people are free to express their ideas - this cannot … Continue reading Animal rights campaigns: When free speech takes a hideous turn

Fanning the flames of fear

Over the New Year’s weekend, the people of Los Angeles were gripped by a rash of arsons that targeted vehicles and homes. The fires sent people scurrying from bed in the middle of the night, with children in arms, in a desperate attempt to avoid harm. An understandable fear gripped the community, with people parking … Continue reading Fanning the flames of fear

Afterthoughts on IoM report on the use of chimps in scientific research

Thursday marked an important moment in the history of animal research.  The long-anticipated report of a committee convened by the Institute of Medicine (IoM) to consider whether chimpanzee research is scientifically necessary released its report, quickly followed by a statement from Dr. Francis Collins, Director of NIH, the director accepting the committee's recommendations. The report … Continue reading Afterthoughts on IoM report on the use of chimps in scientific research

All in a day’s work: Scientists promote alternatives

Once upon a time, the medication BoTox (made by a company called Allergan) was tested for its potency, on a batch by batch basis, in living animals. This medication, which is really a protein derived from bacteria, has many important therapeutic purposes. For example, it has been shown to be very effective in the treatment … Continue reading All in a day’s work: Scientists promote alternatives

Lighting the Way to New Treatments

A variety of diseases in humans happen when proteins with important cellular functions are lacking or are produced in abnormally low amounts. One example is type-2 diabetes mellitus which is caused by a complex set of problems involving the use of sugars (mostly, glucose) as an energy source. After eating, sugars in food are taken … Continue reading Lighting the Way to New Treatments