Part the Third and Final: The White Rabbit Vanishes (We Hope) Down the Rabbit Hole!

May 29, 2010 | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Dear readers,

I apologize for the long lapse between the second installment of On the Trail of the White Rabbit and this final note, by no means a conclusion, but a valedictory wave down the rabbit hole, a complicated farewell.

In the earlier installments, (On the Trail of the White Rabbit, Parts 1 & 2), I attempted to highlight the debate between advocates of heightened public awareness regarding the realities of lab subject (or animal) testing in this country and those who support ongoing lab research using live animals. I quoted Dr. John Pippin, head of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Also, I referred to data from the U.S. Humane Society) followed by a response from doctors who believe that animal testing is integral to the search for cures for life-threatening diseases and injuries. We heard from Dr. Wise Young, expert on spinal cord injuries and paralysis.

In this third and final installment, I'd like to simply offer a "snapshot" of what might happen in a laboratory to animals who are lab subjects -- in this case, dogs who are kept alive in the lab for the sole purpose of research.

The following is an excerpt from a paper published by Dr. Richard Bergman, a professor and Chair of the Dept of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine, who has received NIH funding for many years for diabetes research:

Experiments were conducted on eight conscious male mongrel dogs (26.86 0.5 kg, range: 23.4-31.5 kg). Dogs were housed under controlled kennel conditions (12 h light:12 h dark) in the University of Southern California (USC) Medical School Vivarium. Animals had free access to standard chow (25% protein, 9% fat, 49% carbohydrate, and 17% fiber; Wayne Dog Chow, Alfred Mills, Chicago, IL) and tap water. Food was withdrawn 15 h before experiments. Dogs were well accustomed to laboratory procedures and were used for experiments only if judged to be in good health as determined by visual observation, weight stability, body temperature, and hematocrit. 7-10 d before experiments, chronic catheters were surgically implanted. One
catheter was inserted in the jugular vein and advanced to the right atrium for sampling of central venous blood, and a second catheter was inserted in the femoral vein and advanced to the vena cava for tracer and insulin infusion. All catheters were led subcutaneously to
the neck and exteriorized. Catheters were flushed with heparinized saline (100 U/ml) twice a week and the exteriorization site was cleaned with hydrogen peroxide (4%). On the morning of each experiment, acute catheters were inserted in peripheral veins for infusion of glucose and, when necessary, Liposyn (Abbott Laboratories, North Chicago, IL) or glycerol (Sigma Immunochemicals, St. Louis, MO). Dogs received iron supplement tablets (65 mg; Rugby Laboratories, Norcross, GA) for 3 d after experiments. Experiments in individual animals were separated by at least 1 wk. The experimental protocol was approved by the USC Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

Dr. Richard Bergman is professor and Chair of the Dept of Physiology and Biophysics at USC's Keck School of Medicine. His research has been funded by the NIH since 1980 and his grant ends in 2011.

The national "oversight" committee (for animal protocols) that Dr. Wise Young referred to in an earlier installment is the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee -- Dr. Young mentioned that it was his understanding that a protocol set by this committee required, for example, that lab animals not be "conscious" during procedures.

I wrote to Dr. Bergman some months ago, asking him to respond to a few questions that I had about his research projects and the fact that I had heard that he keeps about "fifty" dogs, (beagles) at any one time in his lab, for research purposes.

When I wrote to Dr. Bergman, I asked him about his work -- and also requested information on what his research (since the 80's) had actually accomplished in the area of diabetes treatment and cure. I received no answer to my query.

I leave it to you, Dear Reader, to draw your conclusions from the entire three-part series I've put forward here on the Huffington Post. I've tried to present both "sides" -- and finally provide a glimpse of a "typical" procedure, offering insight into what animal subjects undergo in nationwide laboratories.

The White Rabbit, unfortunately, has disappeared -- I'm hoping that he was not picked up and taken to a lab -- Class B or otherwise. I'm hoping that we can continue this debate on the use of live animals for laboratory testing -- following the pale hare into new and enlightened territory.

I'm hoping that all labs have gotten the word that new FDA data has consolidated animal testing results, reducing unnecessary repetition of live-animal studies and experiments.

I'm hoping that the truth about the need for animal testing for human health and survival will finally "out" -- and I hope that these three articles of On the Trail of the White Rabbit -- will assist in catching up to the Real Story of the White Rabbit and some of his "subject" friends.