Here’s an OHSU Headline that is making the rounds. (Link to the full story here)
Not only is this a key breakthrough that will likely help protect babies exposed to nicotine…it’s also an opportunity to reflect on the importance of animal studies.
Frequently, when human breakthroughs are covered by the press, reporters fail to mention an important fact…how we got there. If they did, you would learn that more times than you can imagine, animal studies paved the way. In this particular case, human studies came only after animals were first observed at OHSU’s Oregon National Primate Research Center.
More info from an OHSU press release here (OHSU Research Shows Vitamin C Counteracts Some Negative Impacts of Smoking on Unborn Babies – April 26, 2005):
Research conducted in monkeys at the Oregon National Primate Research Center, Oregon Health & Science University, suggests high doses of vitamin C may have potential to counteract some negative impacts of smoking in unborn babies. The research may benefit thousands of babies born to mothers who continue to smoke throughout pregnancy despite physician warnings. The research is published in the current edition of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
“The findings of this research are highly applicable to humans,” said Eliot Spindel, M.D., Ph.D., a scientist in the Division of Neuroscience at the Oregon National Primate Research Center and senior author of the paper. “The sad reality is that approximately 11 percent of pregnant mothers continue to smoke during pregnancy — this translates to about a half a million American women a year. Reflecting the highly addictive nature of smoking, these women continue to smoke despite the warnings of their physicians and despite a tremendous public awareness campaign aimed at preventing smoking during pregnancy. While this research finding may assist the babies of these mothers, it does not make smoking during pregnancy more acceptable. It would only become a last resort treatment when an expectant mother is unwilling to stop smoking.”
Over the past few years, the primate center’s research has been heavily criticized by animal rights groups claiming that animal studies do not translate to human health breakthroughs. This latest breakthrough helps highlight the important connection between cell biology, animal studies and clinical trials in humans and how one builds upon and relies upon the other.
While, the overall use of animals in research is topic Americans should debate, this is a good example – one of thousands, maybe millions – about the important role animals play in improving our health.