A controversial neurosurgeon in Italy said this week that he and his fellow researchers may be able to conduct the first human head transplant next year.
We suggest they start with their own.
Dr. Sergio Canavero has been compared to Dr. Frankenstein, and called a nut, but that hasn’t stopped him and members of his consortium — from China, South Korea and the U.S. — from severing the spinal cord of the beagle above (just so they could try to reattach it) and doing the same with numerous mice.
If that’s not weird enough, Canavero and team say that before they attempt a head transplant on a live human, they will conduct some experiments on human corpses, and then reanimate them with electricity to test his technique.
We can only assume they will do so in the basement laboratory of a castle, during a thunderstorm.
Canavero is director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group. He released three papers this week, and the video above, showing how he and his collaborators had successfully reattached the spinal cords of the dog and several mice.
Canavero also claims that researchers led by Xiaoping Ren at Harbin Medical University have already performed a head transplant on a monkey – connecting up the blood supply between the head and the new body.
Canavero’s short term goal is to successfully transplant a human head. His long term goal, he admits, “is immortality.”
What’s an acceptable number of dogs to torture in a quest of that nature?
We’d say none.
Canavero says the experiments on animals prove the technique used — known as GEMINI spinal cord fusion — incorporates a chemical called polyethylene glycol, or PEG, to encourage neurons to grow toward each other and connect.
He suspects it will also work in humans to fuse two ends of a spinal cord together, or to connect a transplanted head to a donor body.
He made the claims in a series of papers published in the journal Surgical Neurology International.
The claims have been met with widespread skepticism, according to New Scientist.
Canavero first announced his plans to conduct a human head transplant in 2013 and established the ead Anastomosis Venture, or HEAVEN, project to develop the techniques needed to carry out such an operation.
His collaborator in South Korea is Dr. C-Yoon Kim, a neurosurgeon at Konkuk University in Seoul who partially severed and reattached the spinal cords of 16 mice. Five of the eight mice who received PEG regained some ability to move. The other three died — as did eight who were in a control group.
In another experiment the South Korean team nearly severed the spinal cord of a dog. While the dog was initially paralyzed, three days later the team reported it was able to move its limbs and wag its tail.
South Korea is also the birthplace of dog cloning and up until this summer — when an American company cloned a dog for a customer — it was the only country cloning dogs for profit.
It’s probably not too outlandish — given all the bizarre turns medical researchers are taking — to wonder if surplus canine clones in South Korea end up being used for other wacky experiments by mad (or at least overly zealous) scientists.
In fact, if you look at its history, creating dogs for medical research use was one markets mentioned by the developers and marketers of dog cloning.
Could it be that some of the ideas initially presented in science fiction might ought to remain in the realm of science fiction?
Canavero’s research papers don’t indicate how many more dogs might have their necks snapped or heads severed by his research team as they boldly and single-mindedly stride toward their goal.
But, again, we’d argue that — no matter what medical gains it could lead to for humans — it should be NONE.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 22nd, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, china, cloning, controversial, cord, dog, dogs, dr. sergio canavero, experiments, frankenstein, head transplant, heaven, human head transplant, italy, lab, laboratory, medical, neurosurgeon, pets, reattached, research, science, sergio canavero, severed, south korea, spinal, u.s.
The largest of the country’s three remaining Class B dog dealers — those often unscrupulous sorts who scrounge up dogs and sell them to laboratories for use in experiments — is going out of business.
The Humane Society of the United States reported yesterday that Ohio-based dealer Robert Perry has cancelled his license with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
That means only two licensed “random source” dealers remain. Class B, or random source, dealers round up dogs from flea markets, shelters, auctions, Craigslist and other sources and sell them to research institutions.
“These merchants of cruelty are on their last gasps, and this announcement gets us one big step closer to the complete demise of this sordid trade,” Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, writes on the HSUS blog, A Humane Nation.
Perry has been supplying dogs for years to a number of institutions, including Ohio State University. Between October 2013 and October 2014, OSU purchased nearly 50 dogs from Perry, making him the biggest random source supplier of dogs used in research nationwide.
Of the two remaining Class B dealers, one had only four dogs in its most recent inventory and the other is facing formal enforcement action from the USDA, according to HSUS.
At one time there were more than 200 licensed Class B dealers in the United States. By 2013, as a result of a decline in the use of dogs in laboratories and opposition from groups like HSUS, Last Chance for Animals, the Doris Day Animal League, and the Animal Welfare Institute, that number was down to six
Last year’s announcement from the National Institutes of Health that it would no longer fund research that used random source dogs served as a final nail in the coffin for Class B dog dealing.
The NIH decision stemmed from a report issued by the National Academy of Sciences that found random source dealers could not guarantee that people’s pets would not end up in laboratories.
Those dogs who are bred for laboratory research — commonly beagles — weren’t directly affected by that decision, but, as Pacelle notes, they are being used less often by laboratories, too.
“The continuing and rapid decline of these random source Class B dealers means the chances of pets ending up in laboratories are now very low,” Pacelle said.” And we’re perhaps closer to the day when fewer dogs of any kind are used in testing and research.”
(Photo: A “random source” dog that was used in dental experiments at Georgia Regents University that were the subject of an HSUS investigation; courtesy of HSUS)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 7th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, class b, dealers, department of agriculture, dog, dog dealers, dogs, experiments, hsus, humane society of the united states, laboratory, license, pets, random source, research, supply, usda, wayne pacelle
A physician’s organization led a rally this week urging Wayne State University to end its long-running series of cardiac research experiments on dogs.
About 45 people joined in the protest, led by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
According to the nonprofit organization, the heart failure experiments have been going on for 20 years, at a cost to taxpayers of about $8 million, and have provided no information beneficial to treating human heart disease.
No dogs leave the program alive.
“These research experiments have not garnered anything that has advanced human health,” said Jennifer Giordano, a Detroit-area doctor representing the committee. “We want them to use human-relevant research methods.”
In the experiments, heart problems are induced in the dogs by the use of implanted electrodes, which cause their heart rates to more than double.
The dogs are then put through multiple surgeries and are required to run on treadmills. About 25 percent of the dogs die during or after the surgery. Those who do survive are euthanized when their participation is no longer needed.
The experiments are funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.
At the Wednesday rally the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine presented a letter signed by actress Lily Tomlin to Wayne State University officials, calling on them to end medical experiments on dogs. Tomlin is a Detroit native and attended the university.
In the letter, Tomlin wrote: “I understand that Wayne State is spending millions of taxpayer dollars using dogs in heart failure experiments that have not benefited human health in any way. I urge you to end these senseless experiments as soon as possible.”
A copy of the letter was given to Matt Lockwood, a university spokesman who came to the rally and a read a statement defending the experiments, the Detroit News reported.
“Almost every medical advance in the last 100 years was due to research on animals — chemotherapy, hip replacements, transfusions, dialysis — was all tested on dogs,” Lockwood said. “We need to continue to do research to advance science.”
He said the animals in the experiments are under the constant supervision of veterinarians.
“There’s a committee that’s sole purpose is to ensure the animals are as comfortable as possible,” he said. “We’re also under the oversight of the federal government and the state. Never once has any animal been found to have been mistreated at any time.”
He said the dogs are euthanized after taking part in the experiments, but he declined to provide numbers.
(Photo: Daniel Mears / Detroit News)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 10th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, cardiac, cease, detroit, disease, dog, dogs, end, experimentation, experiments, failure, heart, induced, laboratory, letter, lily tomlin, medical, pets, physicians committee for responsible medicine, protest, rally, research, science, stop, surgery, wayne state university
Sid, the Leonberger, apparently wasn’t the only dog a Fort Worth veterinarian promised to euthanize, then kept alive for the purpose of harvesting blood.
Millard “Lou” Tierce III, owner of Camp Bowie Animal Clinic, told investigators in a written statement that there were at least five dogs that — after assuring owners he was going to euthanize their pets — he secretly kept alive for blood transfusions and experimentation.
The Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners has scheduled a hearing on whether Tierce, whose license has been temporarily suspended, should face permanent suspension.
That’s scheduled for May 9 in Austin, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The investigations of Tierce began when Sid’s owners filed a complaint against him.
Marian and James Harris said they took their 170-pound Leonberger to Tierce’s clinic in May 2013 for a minor gland problem. Tierce kept the dog at his clinic for six months, during which time he performed cold laser therapy. In October, though, he told the couple the dog should be euthanized due to a birth defect in his spine.
The couple agreed to have Sid euthanized, and Tierce promised to bury the dog at his farm.
Last month, though, a former clinic employee told the Harrises that Sid was still alive, and being kept in a cage for all but 30 minutes a day.
Upon learning that, the Harrises went to the clinic and removed their dog.
On April 29, the board conducted a clinic inspection and found “animal organs were kept in jars throughout the clinic. Bugs were visible in exam rooms. Stacks of drugs, trash, laundry, paperwork and other miscellaneous material were strewn about the examination rooms, hallways, stairwells, operating room, laboratories and offices of the clinic.”
Board investigators received a signed, handwritten statement from Tierce that he had accepted five animals for euthanasia and had kept them at his clinic without euthanizing them, the report stated.
Fort Worth police also went to the clinic on April 29, along with an outside veterinarian who concluded three other dogs being held there were suffering so much they should have been euthanized — including one who belonged to Tierce.
According to Tierce’s arrest warrant, a clinic employee told police that Tierce’s dog, a border collie, had been lying on a pallet in the same spot since she started work in June, without receiving medical treatment.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 6th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, arrest, blood, board of veterinary medical examiners, border collie, charges, dog, dogs, euthanasia, euthanized, experimentation, experiments, fort worth, harvesting, health, hearing, inspection, investigation, james harris, leonberger, lou tierce, marian harris, pets, promise, sid, suspension, texas, transfusions, veterinarian, veterinary, warrant
Roo, a Chihuahua, was found freezing in a ditch, where he’d apparently been discarded after being born with no front legs.
Penny is a silky chicken who was once used for experiments at an area veterinary school.
The dog, believed to have been abandoned by a backyard breeder when he was just seven weeks old, was found on Christmas day, 2013, under some leaves in a ditch.
The chicken, once the undisclosed experiments she was part of were completed, was likely going to be put down, but an offer was made to adopt her.
Officially, both now belong to an employee at the animal hospital in Gwinnett, Alicia Williams, who brings Roo and Penny with work to her most days.
Williams, the client services receptionist at Duluth Animal Hospital, told Channel 2 Action News the dog and chicken became friends immediately, and some clients schedule appointments for their pets when they know the two will be there.
They’re gaining popularity nationwide, too, through the animal hospital’s Facebook page, and a video (above) recently posted on YouTube.
Roo manages to get around on just his hind legs, but he’s also been outfitted with a special wheelchair.
(Photo: On an outing during the recent Georgia snowfall, Penny and Roo left some interesting tracks / Facebook)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 20th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, animals, best friends, chicken and chihuahua, chihuahua and chicken, dog and chicken, duluth animal hospital, experiments, friends, friendship, inter-species, interspecies, penny, pets, rescue, rescued, roo, silky, two-legged, unlikely friends, veterinary, video, wheelchair
I’m a big fan of dogs, and not a fan of dentistry at all, so as you might expect I’ve got some problems with dogs being used to test out dental implants, in hopes of making better and safer ones for humans.
Especially considering that dogs are suffering and dying in the process, as The Humane Society of the United States says is the case at Georgia Regents University.
The HSUS last week released this report, containing undercover footage obtained during its three-month-long investigation at GRU. The experiments lead to two questions in my mind.
First, since the research is supposed to benefit humans, why not use humans for the tests? I’m sure there are plenty of people who are in need of dental implants and who, unable to afford them, might be willing to volunteer. I myself might take the risk, assuming that the researchers don’t insist on killing me afterwards to get a sample of my jawbone.
And that’s question number two: Why is it necessary to kill a dog after he’s already made an unwilling contribution to science — or at least a contribution to us humans being able to have gap-free permanent false teeth and not having to mess with things like denture adhesives?
As one dentist told the Humane Society, it’s not.
“In the two studies I reviewed, human research subjects could have been used, given that the products were already approved by the Food and Drug Administration and bone biopsies are commonly done in human studies,” said James P. Jensvold, DDS.
“Animals used in research are often ‘sacrificed’ at the end of the study, and this is accepted as standard practice without taking into consideration the unnecessary emotional and physical suffering that the animals must endure,” Jensvold added. “As a dental student and oral and maxillofacial surgery resident, I witnessed laboratory animals being treated as little different than a test tube, which is inconsistent with the values of compassionate healthcare.”
“Dogs don’t need to die for frivolous dental experiments,” said Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO. “It’s painful to watch these forlorn dogs sacrificed for these questionable purposes…”
If you tend to distrust dentists, and Wayne Pacelle, perhaps you’ll believe actress Kim Basinger, who narrates the HSUS report:
“GRU buys dogs from a Class B dealer who’s under federal investigation,” she notes. “Dogs like Shy Guy, along with others, who may have been famiily pets, were all used for unnecessary dental experiments. Their teeth were pulled out and replaced. It’s very painful, just look into their eyes.”
(Dogs used in the experiments, after having their teeth removed, are given a canine version of dental implants, not human ones, like you find in those freakish — to me, anyway — ads for Pedigree Dentastix.)
The HSUS investigator witnessed dogs having their teeth pulled out and replaced with implants. Once the experiments were over, the dogs were euthanized for a small sample of their jaw bone. GRU has been conducting dental implant research on random-source Class B dogs for years.
There are only six random-source Class B Dealers still active in the U.S. They are permitted to gather dogs and cats from various sources, including auctions, “free to good home” ads, online sources, flea markets, and even animal control and some shelter facilities — and resell them to research facilities. There have been cases of stolen pets ending up in research laboratories via ClassB dealers, the HSUS says.
The dealer who sold the dogs to GRU, Kenneth Schroeder, has previously been charged by the U.S. Department of Agriculture with violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including obtaining dogs from unauthorized sources, according to the HSUS.
Dr. Mark Hamrick, Senior Vice President for Research at Georgia Regents University, issued the school’s response to the HSUS allegations:
“As an institution, we are committed to research that will provide a direct benefit to patient lives by restoring function to damaged and diseased organs and tissues … The Food and Drug Administration, which provides oversight for medical device safety and procedures including dental implants, requires preclinical studies in animals demonstrating that the device or procedure is both safe and effective for its intended use in humans … The research being done with dogs is neither frivolous nor unnecessary, as alleged by the investigation, and is performed in order to develop safe, effective dental procedures for people.”
The HSUS says the studies are being done at the university in part to compare a dental implant invented by researchers at GRU, in conjunction with a private company, with that of a competitor.
According to the HSUS, 65,000 dogs per year are used for research, testing, and education in the U.S.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 25th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, class b, dealers, dental, dentist, dentistry, dogs, experiments, georgia regents university, gru, humane society of the united states, humans, implants, investigation, kim basinger, laboratory, medicine, pets, random source, science, teeth, tests, undercover, video
Didja hear the one about the blonde Fox News anchorwoman who took her golden retriever to get an IQ test?
While that has all the ingredients for a pretty good joke, it’s actually the basis of a pretty informative news report, in which Fox 8’s Katie Nordeen brought her dog Louie to Duke University scientist Brian Hare to find out just exactly what type of dog genius he — Louie, not Dr. Hare — is.
Hare, co-author of “The Genius of Dogs,” is the founder of Dognition, a research firm that puts dogs through a series of science-based games designed to assess their personality type — information that Hare says can help dog owners better understand their dogs.
Users of the service (it costs $39) don’t get to bring their dog to Hare, as Nordeen did, but get a “toolkit” and instructions on how to conduct the experiments in their own homes.
The experiments measure five dimensions: cunning, empathy, communication, reasoning and memory, and by virtue of the results, dogs are judged to be one of nine types — Ace, Maverick, Charmer, Socialite, Protodog, Renaissance Dog, Expert, Stargazer, or Einstein.
Customers, after submitting their test results, receive a full report explaining their dog’s type, and how the conclusion was reached.
Louie, for example, was found to be a socialite. (You can read Dognition’s full report on Louie here.)
“… Gracefully interacting and communicating with others requires talent. In Louie’s case, she takes this talent to a whole new level – it is definitely her genius. Although Louie is not as adept at independent problem-solving skills as other dogs, don’t jump to any conclusions about her intelligence. Louie relies on a very specific strategy – using you and other humans in her pack to get what she wants.”
(Yes, they got Louie’s sex wrong in the report, but they are personality experts, not gender experts.)
Cutsomers also have the option of becoming members of Dognition (for an additional $60 for a year, or $5 a month), entitling them to receive tailored training tips and activities and get a discount for testing additional dogs.
Hare says Dognition, established last year, is proving popular, with thousands of users from around the world.
“Everybody wants to understand what’s going on inside of a dog’s head. It has not been hard to get people excited about this.”
After visiting Dognition’s lab in Durham for the FOX8 report, Nordeen continued conducting the experiments at home over the next two weeks. Once submitting her findings, the results were delivered, by email, almost instantly.
Hare says the purpose of Dognition is to enrich people’s relationships with their dogs, but it, like his book, is also aimed at showing the public how truly brilliant dogs are.
“Dogs were thought to be totally unremarkable. There were really no interesting things they could do relative to say dolphins or bonobos, so people were focusing on these other animals,” he said. “But at our feet, literally, were geniuses that had been undiscovered … What makes dogs such geniuses is that, relative to other species, they’re really skilled, really flexible, in understanding what it is we want and what we’re trying to tell them.”
The Dognition tests, in their at-home version, may not be the hardest of science, and their results may not be irrefutable. But given the firm’s stated goals, given the not entirely exorbitant price tag, and given that they’re fun and result in people spending more time with their dogs, I think they have a place in the spectrum of doggie evaluation services.
If people are willing to pay more than $100 to determine what breeds are in their dogs, through DNA testing, $39 doesn’t seem like too much to pay to assess that dog’s personality — and may even provide more telling clues into what makes them tick.
I haven’t run my dog Ace through the online Dognition drill yet, in part because I think his genius is too vast to be measured and could forever skew Dognition’s data base, in part because I already know he’s a charmer, with shades of socialite and Einstein. But Nordeen’s report answered a lot of questions I had about the service, and one of these days, I’ll give it a try.
We’ll close with some bloopers, courtesy of Fox 8, that occured while Nordeen and Louie were taping a promo for the piece — none of which, I’m sure, had anything to do with them being blond:
Posted by John Woestendiek November 11th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: ace, animals, blondes, bloopers, brian hare, Charmer, cognition, communication, cunning, dog personality, dognition, dogs, duke, duke university, Einstein, empathy, experiments, expert, fox 8, fox news, games, genius, iq, katie nordeen, louie, Maverick, media, memory, news, personality, pets, Protodog, reasoning, Renaissance Dog, Socialite, Stargazer, tests, the genius of dogs