DETROIT (WXYZ) — We highlighted a law introduced in the Michigan legislature to require the adoption of dogs that have been the subject of lab testing. Now, we’re going to one of the institutions in our own backyard, and the push to close its research down to make that adoption law irrelevant.
Additional interview with Kristina RInaldi, Detroit Dog Rescue:
“I think that it's just despicable,” said Amanda a resident of Southfield.
“I don't think it makes any sense to continue to fund this,” said Dr. Jennifer Giordano from Farmington Hills.
“The vast majority of Michigan voters don't want dogs experimented on in painful experiments. Period,” said Ryan Merkley from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
Experiments at Wayne State University, for three decades now studying heart failure and hypertension.
A protest outside the lab this past week, with beds for every known dog that’s perished in the care of WSU (Wayne State University) during the research.
136 since 2009 according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
“Cutting open their chest cavities, implanting up to nine up to nine devices, catheters, attaching those devices to cables and wires that are then tunneled under the animal's skin out through incisions in their backs. And what they then do is trigger heart failure or hypertension using these devices,” said Merkley.
Hundreds of documents obtained by PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) through FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests and shared with 7 Action News, detail some of the tests, predominately on Beagles.
ITS FIRST SURGERY TO CONNECT DEVICES TO ITS HEART
-AND HYDRAULIC VASCULAR OCCLUDERS ON THE TERMINAL AORTA
-CATHETERS AND CABLES “TUNNELED”
Less than a month later a second surgery that included connecting pacing wires on a ventricle that would allow the dog's heart rate to be manipulated.
A week later dog number 2002 died. A hole in the aorta causing the chest cavity to fill with blood. It was euthanized.
Advocates against the ongoing study, including some physicians, say the research has produced zero tangible results.
“It's egregious to me that this research has been going on for over three decades and has cost me, taxpayers, $15 million over the course of this. And this time that these experiments have been happening and have produced no human-relevant results,” said Dr. Jennifer Giordano of Farmington Hills.
In a statement Wayne State University defends its study and the National Institutes of Health Funding (NIH), saying in part:
“The NIH (National Institutes of Health) continues to fund this research because its scientists view Wayne State’s research data and peer-reviewed journal articles as valuable contributions to cardiovascular research. Only the top 10 percent of all NIH grants in this field are funded, so if the research was not productive and valuable it would not continually receive competitive funding…”
“Often, science does not move at the pace we would like. Advances are made incrementally — and often painstakingly — over years. Just as scientists haven’t given up on cancer research despite not finding a cure, we believe this cardiovascular research should continue.”
PCRM says it analyzes similar records from Michigan State University and has filed to get them from the University of Michigan.
In 2019 an undercover investigation by the humane society inside a pesticide testing site on behalf of DowDuPont led to 32 beagles being saved from being euthanized after public outcry.
As of May 17th, 2021, PCRM says the same facility, Charles River lab, housed more than 1000 dogs.
The scale of the testing in Michigan isn't known because facilities are not required to report to state officials.
State Senator Dayna Polehanki hopes public pressure will sway Wayne State and others.
WXYZ’s Brian Abel asked, “What could cause a change?”
“Public outrage and perhaps an opinion from the Attorney General?” said Sen. Dayna Polehanki, (D) Livonia.
“We requested an informal opinion from the attorney general because, in the Michigan Constitution, it says that animal experimentation must be humane. Well, what does that definition of humane?” said Rep. Matt Koleszar 20th District (D).
In that 4-part letter to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, Rep. Matt Koleszar suggesting the Department of Health and Human Services has failed to uphold and enforce a mandate requiring labs register with the state.
“I believe our state has an opportunity to address a long-neglected duty and a failure of federal oversight,” Koleszar wrote in the letter.
Meanwhile - some aware of the testing… pleading for it to end.
“We are losing, you know, our humanity by doing this because we wouldn't do these experiments on humans,” said Amanda from Southfield.
Attorney General Nessel’s office says the opinion request is under review.
Here is the full Wayne State University statement:
Although use of animals other than mice or rats is uncommon at Wayne State, we do have one federally funded research project involving dogs that is working on new strategies for the treatment of congestive heart failure and hypertension. Heart disease is the number one killer in America, so the odds are this research is going to benefit your health or the lives of your loved ones.
Every winter we hear about someone having a heart attack while shoveling snow. Certain types of exercise trigger a type of feedback loop in people with high blood pressure or modest heart failure. How this feedback loop is triggered and why it escalates to a heart attack under certain conditions, like shoveling snow, is not well understood. Research at Wayne State is making progress uncovering the factors that contribute to this deadly cycle.
The world’s most eminent experts in clinical and translational cardiovascular sciences sitting on National Institutes of Health panels rate the research as highly important. The NIH continues to fund this research because its scientists view Wayne State’s research data and peer-reviewed journal articles as valuable contributions to cardiovascular research. Only the top 10 percent of all NIH grants in this field are funded, so if the research was not productive and valuable it would not continually receive competitive funding.
Often, science does not move at the pace we would like. Advances are made incrementally — and often painstakingly — over years. Just as scientists haven’t given up on cancer research despite not finding a cure, we believe this cardiovascular research should continue.
Wayne State is committed to the responsible and ethical use of animals in research, but also recognizes the benefits of research involving animals. Animal research has played a vital role in virtually every major medical advance of the last century – for both human and animal health. From antibiotics to blood transfusions, from dialysis to chemotherapy, bypass surgery and joint replacement, practically every present-day therapy for the prevention, treatment, cure and control of disease, pain and suffering is based on knowledge attained through research with animals.
The university has the highest level of ethical standards in conducting biomedical research, as well as the highest level of care for animals used in research and has been accredited by AAALAC International since its inception.
The university strictly adheres to the policy of using only as many animals as reasonably necessary, minimizing discomfort and distress, and using alternatives whenever feasible.