Muscular Dystrophy Research in Veterinary Medicine Authorized for Human Clinical Trials
People suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy are given hope through the positive results of last year’s studies. Studies like the Capricor’s CAP-1002 Cell Therapy of Advanced Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) Patients, whose HOPE Phase 1 was a success, awaits FDA approval and is set to launch Phase 2 in 2018. The UT Southwestern’s Genetic Research is another promising study, which was also successful in correcting the DMD in both human cells and mice in their laboratory using the new CRISPR-Cpf1 gene-editing enzyme.
The latest to be celebrated, however, is last December's news. The research conducted by the Texas A&M University on canine dystrophinopathies has been approved to proceed to human clinical trials. There is a huge reason to celebrate since the disease progression in dogs is closely similar to human DMD progression as compared to dystrophin-deficient MDX mice. This is a much-needed advancement, especially that the research has been under fire since 2013 by PETA.
Outrage from PETA
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) strongly opposes the Texas A&M University’s use of dogs in pursuit of a DMD cure. They have created an online petition, which has garnered more than 200,000 signatures, to put an end to the research. Their outrage is out of the fact Dr. Kornegay purposely keeps the mildly affected GRMD dogs to use as breeders. It is further fueled by the videos and images sent by an anonymous worker at Texas A&M laboratory.
In the photos PETA received, the golden retrievers are seen struggling to walk and eat. The dog’s jaw muscles showed obvious weakness as drools were continuously dripping from the dog’s mouth. PETA claimed that they have compiled evidence and testimonies from scientists that support the claim that the research has no value to human patients whatsoever.
They requested Dr. Kornegay to share all his recorded information about the research, starting from the very beginning, of which PETA claims they were denied. They also went to add that they were unaware of this research that they claim has been going on for more than 30 years at different research institutions.
In an article that appeared on the Houston Press website, PETA’s Senior Vice President, Kathy Guillermo, claimed that when they called Young's office, a personnel from who identified himself as Tyler said to his knowledge the research has stopped. PETA has also urged critics of the research to formally lodge their complaints to the office of the president at Texas A&M, Michael Young.
They further disparage Texas A&M by claiming that Keith Randall, the Associate Director of Texas A&M, sent them an email response where he wasn’t even aware of the research. PETA further castigated Randall by stating that as he is paid thru taxpayers money, his actions were insulting to the public.
PETA has also created a website that showcases pictures and videos allegedly taken from Texas A&M facilities. People who view the videos, especially animal lovers, would agree with PETA that they are inhumane (Click here to see the video).
But how true is this?