Profile of a Humane Seal Charity: The Dr Hadwen Trust
A British medical research charity—the Dr Hadwen Trust—has kindness to animals down to a science.
For the past 35 years, the organization has maintained a strict cruelty-free stance, funding research that contributes to the understanding of human disease without using live animals or animal tissue.
Scientists whose projects are funded by the Dr Hadwen Trust use a range of modern alternatives—cell cultures, test-tube techniques, computer models, epidemiological studies, and clinical research with human volunteers. “Many of the techniques we’re using are really pioneering and wouldn’t get support from the standard organizations,” says Carol Newman, scientific officer for the trust.
Saving Animals through Innovation
Trust officials say research on human volunteers using a new brain-scanning technology known as MEG (magnetoencephalography) will help scientists learn more about the effects of drugs on the brain—and could lead to new treatments for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. The research, at Aston University in Birmingham, will combine other imaging techniques with MEG technology, which can measure electromagnetic activity in the human brain. The research could save monkeys and other animals from invasive and disturbing brain experiments.
Other scientists funded by the Dr Hadwen Trust are making particular progress in understanding cancer. Researchers at the University of Portsmouth created a three-dimensional model that shows how brain tumors invade healthy tissue. And scientists at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London made a similar model to test new breast cancer treatments. Newman says she hopes these models will eventually replace cruel experiments in which researchers intentionally cause cancer in rodents.
When choosing projects to fund, Newman explains that the organization considers how much good the project could do for humans, as well as how much animal suffering could be alleviated. Research into wound healing at the Cardiff Institute of Tissue Engineering and Repair in Wales could help treat the pressure sores that affect many older people, and would save countless guinea pigs, rabbits, mice, and pigs from excruciating experiments in which they’re intentionally burned or doused with chemicals to create wounds.
More Than 200 Papers Published
The Dr Hadwen Trust encourages the scientists it funds to help raise awareness of humane research by publishing study results. More than 200 reports of the organization’s research have been published in scientific journals. The publicity has helped raise the profile of the group, which has consulted with governments, universities, industry, and animal protection groups.
Advances accomplished by trust researchers include culturing human cartilage, which helped shed light on how arthritis drugs actually work; developing a three-dimensional model of human teeth and jawbone that shows how dental treatments will affect teeth; creating a computer model of a human fetus that can be used to understand placental malfunctions; and using mathematical modeling to create more effective drug combinations for treating non-Hodgkins lymphoma and the childhood nervous system cancer, neuroblastoma.
The Dr Hadwen Trust strives to encourage scientists to uphold the highest scientific—and ethical—standards. “We hope more researchers will increasingly turn to these new techniques. We can and we must do better than experiments on animals,” Newman says.
Located in the town of Hitchin in England, the organization was named for Walter Hadwen, a vegetarian physician who opposed animal experiments in the 1800s. For more information, please visit www.drhadwentrust.org, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.