Saturday, June 7, 2008

Ferrets as Animal Models

I found this abstract while searching for ferret information, about using ferrets in experiments for diseases, because they are cheap, they have large litters and are easy to handle, just angers me to know how ferrets are being used this way. I've read a lot about animal experimentation, and how supposedly they can use other alternatives with computers, cells, etc., but one thing it comes down to is : money - there's a lot of people that make money from this business - one that comes to mind especially is Marshall farms. I've read that Marshall's original intent was selling ferrets from animal experimentation before they started selling ferrets for pets. And since this is government papers as I understand should be public domain. Here's part of the abstract

The six areas of biomedical research that most commonly use ferrets (cystic fibrosis, influenza and other respiratory diseases, lung cancer, reproductive and fetal biology, neuroscience, and specific forms of cancer) are collectively responsible for over 12 billion dollars of funding from the National Institutes of Health alone for 2006. This total represents about 44% of the NIH annual grant monies. Additionally, ferrets have the potential of becoming an important system for drug and vaccine development, including validation and toxicity studies. The lack of genomic sequence hampers the interpretation of the results from existing research programs as well as the development of novel programs that rely on this kind of information. Combined sequencing of ferret genomic DNA and ESTs will allow for the development of additional resources for genomic and proteomic research and provide the genetic information necessary to improve the interpretation of results and quality of reagents for future research efforts within this model. There is strong support from the research community for this proposal, as evidenced by the accompanying 53 letters of endorsement from leading investigators in both academic and industrial institutions. These emphasize that ongoing research with ferret biomedical models is significantly limited by the lack of sequence data and derived molecular tools. In particular, ferret sequence data is urgently needed for models of infectious respiratory diseases with
pandemic potential, e.g. avian influenza and SARS corona virus. National interest in these models is evidenced by recent Congressional funding for pandemic flu preparedness (June 2006) and the Biodefense Advanced Research and Development Authority (Dec. 2006). ).

I. Introduction

Ferrets have a long history as animal model subjects. In 1933, influenza-induced rhinitis was
first observed in ferrets. Because this model mimics the shedding of viruses from respiratory tissue in a fashion similar to humans, their importance as an animal model was immediately apparent. Ferrets belong to the Order Carnivora, which includes dogs, wolves, cats, bears, weasels and otters. At the family node, ferrets diverge from the Canidae to form the Family Mustelidae. Most closely related to the European polecat, the domestic ferret (Mustela putorius furo) deviated from the polecat at least 2,500 years ago. Sharing the Genus Mustela with ferrets are the ermine (Mustela erminea), mink (Mustela vison) and several weasel species. Of the two ferret species, the sequencing project would exclusively encompass the domestic ferret; the black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripei) is endangered.

In addition, the ferret model has the potential for generating inbred lines and knockout models.
Compared to the macaque species, the ferret has a much higher rate of fecundity. Macaques give birth to one infant generally once a year under proper conditions and have a gestation period averaging 165 days. The ferret can reproduce up to three times annually with an average of 15 kits produced per year. This lends itself to creating different lines of ferrets that may have defined phenotypic characteristics or the development of knock-out animals. In fact, several laboratories are in the process of developing ferret colonies for their research, and knockouts have already been generated in this model (unpublished data). Obviously, these resources can not be developed at the same rate in ferrets as in the rodent animal models, but resources could be developed substantially faster than in macaques. Additionally, macaques are also almost exclusively out-bred, but the reproductive system of the ferret can also be used to generate in-bred lines of animals. Ferrets are also used effectively in embryo transfer and cloning procedures, allowing further possibility in the production of manipulated animals as a model.

All these diseases, cancers, etc is a result of our government. Health care is a joke, the big Pharma's (Rockefeller's) fund the Medical Universities to push chemicals on people, the doctors are brainwashed to subscribe medication, instead of curing the problem. The answer is in nutritional care, but they can't patent vitamins and herbs, there is so much junk in our food and so much of it is Genetically Modified. The FDA does a very poor job of protecting the consumer, too many people in legislation also have interest in the pharmaceutical companies. Our country is way down the line in Health care. Medical care for cancer is multi-billion dollar industry, of course they are not going to find cures, why should they, a lot of rich people would go broke.

Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR)

Preparing Ferrets as Research Subjects in the Laboratory

Marshall Farm Groups

Marshall BioResouces

How about Ferrets Smoking?

Xiang-Dong Wang, M.D., Ph.D., is putting his faith in the ferret. He and colleagues at the Human Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston are using this domesticated version of the European polecat to try to understand why human intervention studies have shown -carotene supplements enhance lung carcinogenesis in smokers. Unlike most laboratory animals, ferrets absorb and metabolize -carotene like humans. They can also inhale levels of tobacco smoke to produce precancerous lesions in the lungs, just like human smokers. His study of high doses of -carotene, published 2 years ago in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, revealed a possible mechanism for the harmful effect seen in the human trials. A second study, published in Carcinogenesis in December, tested low doses, like those obtained from five to nine daily servings of fruits and vegetables. It showed a minor protective effect, Wang said. "Based on our animal study with the ferret, we ferreted out that 6 mg per day of -carotene is safe, and 30 mg per day is harmful," Wang deadpanned. Wang said he could have used a different animal for his study. Monkeys absorb -carotene like humans, but they cost $1000 per animal. The calf was a possibility, but too large to study in his lab. The Mongolian gerbil was an option, but it could not be used for the smoking part of the study. So he’s happy to use ferrets, which cost $75 each. "Ferrets are fearless subjects and gentle. They like to engage in social interactions while we play with them."

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