Animal Research: Giving the Gift of Life

Dr. Barb Glenn
Managing Director, Animal Biotechnology
Biotechnology Industry Organization
Washington, DC

Many of our greatest medical advances have been made through the use of animal models in research. There are, for example, mouse models for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and any number of animal models for cancer, as well as HIV. There is no question, we owe the progress made in treating these diseases to animal research.

So, I was pleased to see when the April issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation landed on my desk that scientists (Rogers et al., J. Clin. Invest. 118:1571-1577) at the University of Iowa and University of Missouri had published a paper outlining something entirely new, a pig model for cystic fibrosis. According to the scientists, existing mouse models are inadequate because they don’t develop the lung and pancreatic disease that causes the death of so many cystic fibrosis patients. In addition, the new pigs to be used for the study of cystic fibrosis were produced using the techniques of modern biotechnology or genetic engineering.

The paper was all the more poignant for me because the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), the organization in Washington, D.C. for whom I work, represents Food & Agricultural biotechnology, as well as the Health Care component of biotechnology.

From time to time in our staff meetings at BIO, we are fortunate enough to meet with a patient who has benefited from biotech therapies. Recently we were introduced to a cystic fibrosis patient. She is a remarkable young woman. She is talented, smart, and an advocate for her disease here in Washington. And most importantly, she is full of life. And that is what biotechnology and animal research do – they give the gift of life.

I hope that this new animal model will help her and others like her by giving the gift of life.

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