UAB self-reported incident where mice were paralyzed during MS study
Media Coverage About SAEN Stop Animal Exploitation Now

ACTION ALERT:

Contact:

Ray L. Watts, President
University of Alabama, Birmingham
[email protected]

SAMPLE MESSAGE:

You must permanently terminate the previously suspended mouse experiment in which UAB staff illegally paralyzed mice. Heinous behavior like this must not be tolerated. You must make an example of this experimenter for performing an unapproved, and therefore illegal, procedure in paralyzing mice. This incident was not only extremely cruel to the mice, but it also flouted the authority of UAB Research administration.

 

UAB self-reported incident where mice were paralyzed during MS study
From Erin Edgemon, ConnectAL.com, November 20, 2018

The University of Alabama at Birmingham said it self-reported an incident during a multiple sclerosis study where two mice exhibited paralysis of the rear legs.

It’s an event that sparked outrage by one animal rights group that contacted the media.

David Cannon, director of UAB’s Office of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), said the incident was reported to the “appropriate regulatory entities.

“After careful deliberation, UAB’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee took appropriate action, and the National Institutes of Health Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare confirmed that it supported our corrective action plan,” he said.

The university did confirm the Office of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee board met on Feb. 28 and “discussed the noncompliance associated with performing two separate procedures where active immunization with myelin-derived proteins were performed on a total of 48 mice without IACUC approval.”

In a letter to UAB President Ray Watts and the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees, animal rights group Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! (SAEN) claimed “malfeasance perpetrated” by an unnamed researcher led to the “suspension of a protocol” that caused the paralysis of multiple animals due to the “performance of highly invasive procedures.” These procedures weren’t approved by the UAB Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

The letter also pointed out other alleged incidents of UAB researchers conducting unapproved procedures in 2016 and 2017, including 16 mice dying from lack of water last year.

SAEN called on UAB to launch an independent investigation to determine if there were any other incidents of noncompliance.

Cannon issued this response to SAEN’s claims about this year’s incident:

“The chief concern and responsibility among our highly trained researchers who have the privilege of working with animals to advance science and medicine is respectful and humane treatment; we give concerns raised by animal activists close attention, as we trust they share that interest. Faculty and staff work closely with UAB’s roughly 41-member Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee – which consists of veterinarians, representatives of the general public, researchers, experts in occupational health and safety and administrative personnel – to meet and exceed policies of regulatory and accrediting agencies including the United States Department of Agriculture, the Public Health Service and the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International. In a rare instance when corrective action is required, we take the necessary steps to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future, and we self-report to the appropriate agency or agencies.”

UAB didn’t release the corrective action plan, saying the matter was a personnel issue and confidential.

But according to SAEN’s letter, UAB’s corrective action plan included:

  • The immediate suspension of all animal research activities for a period of three months.
  • Destruction of all tissues and samples collected from the animals that were part of the unapproved experiments.
  • Directed to not use any of the data generated from those experiments in any way.
  • Management of investigator's mouse colony during suspension is to be provided by individuals selected by the primary department chair, and must not include any individuals from investigator's staff.
  • Retraining of staff conducted and coordinated through the IACUC office."

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