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RESEARCH ETHICS By Kristie Sullivan, M.P.H.


U.S. department of transportation recommends alternatives for Corrosion testing

Corrositex, an in vitro test method for checking whether chemicals can be corrosive to the skin, was accepted for use by the Department of Transportation (DOT) almost 20 years ago. But until recently, the agency recommended that companies use both rabbits and in vitro testing.

New DOT regulations have changed that, giving the rabbits a reprieve by recommending manufacturers use the test-tube method alone.

Progress on Nonanimal Carcinogenicity Tests

New test-tube methods can reduce the use of animals in cancer tests. Three new Cell Transformation Assays—in vitro tests that demonstrate whether chemicals are likely to cause cancer—can partially replace the current carcinogenicity test which uses rats and mice, according to the European Union Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which sets chemical-testing guidelines, is working on guidelines that would allow manufacturers to use the CTAs in place of animals.

Indian Government Bans Use of Live Animals in Education

EURL ECVAM issues recommendation on three alternative-to-animal testing methods for carcinogenicity. European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Health and Consumer Protection. Accessed June 4, 2012. Available at:

Indian Government Bans Use of Live Animals for Education

The Ministry of Environment and Forests in India has issued guidelines banning the use of live animals for dissection and many experiments at educational and research institutions. The new regulations promote computer models and simulators as effective replacements for animals in teaching anatomy, physiology, and other life sciences. Under the new guidelines, violators face criminal penalties.

Baliga L. Govt bans use of live animals for education, research. The Times of India. April 17, 2012. Available at:

Nonanimal Research Alternatives

New Research on Nonanimal Test of Monoclonal Antibody Therapies

Monoclonal antibodies—special proteins used as therapies for diseases such as breast cancer and rheumatoid arthritis—can be very effective. But preclinical tests on animals can severely underestimate their risks. During trials for an antibody therapy called TGN1412, volunteers experienced severe adverse reactions to the drug that had shown no dangers in animal tests.

Research is underway in the United Kingdom to develop tests that will predict potential human immune responses to these promising drugs. The tests will measure the response of human blood cells, called lymphocytes, to new monoclonal antibodies.

New research could significantly reduce the need for clinical animal testing. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Accessed June 4, 2012. Available at:


NUTRITION by Susan Levin, M.S., R.D.


Fish Oil Does Not Prevent Heart Disease

Fish Oil Does Not Prevent Heart Disease

Fish oil does nothing for people with heart disease, according to a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers combined data from 14 previous studies evaluating the effect of fish oil on heart disease. Based on a total of 20,485 patients, results showed that fish oil did not prevent the recurrence of heart problems. Although fish oil supplements are widely sold to heart patients, evidence fails to support their use.

Kwak SM, Myung SK, Lee YJ. Efficacy of omega-3 fatty acid supplements (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid) in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease: a meta-analysis of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. Arch Intern Med. Published online April 9, 2012. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.262.


Dairy Products Do Not Promote Bone HealthDairy Products Do Not Promote Bone Health

Dairy products and calcium do not prevent stress fractures, say researchers who followed adolescent girls for seven years, tracking their diets, physical activity, and stress fractures. Girls consuming the most dairy products and calcium had no added protection. In fact, among the most active girls—exercising more than one hour per day—those who got the most calcium in their diets (coming mostly from dairy products) had more than double the risk of a stress fracture, compared with those getting less calcium. Researchers found that vitamin D intake did help cut risk. Girls getting the most vitamin D had half the risk of a fracture, compared with girls getting less vitamin D.

Sonneville KR, Gordon CM, Kocher MS, Pierce LM, Ramappa A, Field AE. Vitamin D, Calcium, and Dairy Intakes and Stress Fractures Among Female Adolescents. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. Published online March 5, 2012. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2012.5.


Red Meat Increases Risk of Premature Death

Eating red meat increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, and premature death, according to a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health. Among a group of 121,342 individuals followed for up to 28 years, each daily serving of red meat increased the risk of dying by 12 percent. For processed meats (e.g., hot dogs, ham, or bacon), each daily serving increased the risk of death by 20 percent.

Daniel CR, Cross AJ, Graubard BI, et al. Large prospective investigation of meat intake, related mutagens, and risk of renal cell carcinoma. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;1:155-162.


Soy Isoflavones Reduce Hot Flashes

New research finds women dealing with hot flashes have found relief from soy products. In a study in the journal Menopause, women taking soy isoflavone supplements for six weeks to 12 months reduced the frequency of hot flashes by 21 percent, compared with a placebo. The amount of isoflavones taken varied, as this study was an analysis looking at 17 different studies. Researchers found that women who took more than 19 milligrams of genistein (a type of isoflavone) per day doubled their reduction in hot flash frequency, compared with women taking lower doses.

Taku K, Melby MK, Kronenberg F, Kurzer MS, Messina M. Extracted or synthesized soybean isoflavones reduce menopausal hot flash frequency and severity: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Menopause. Published ahead of print March 19, 2012.


Good Medicine: Humanizing Medical Education

Good Medicine
Summer 2012
Vol. XXI, No. 3

download as PDF

Good Medicine

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