Animals Research at UBC

Animal Research Advances Animal Health

Sharing the planet with animals sometimes means sharing diseases such as SARS, avian influenza, or swine flu. But it can also mean sharing benefits of animal research.

For example, animals and humans can suffer from different versions of the same disease. Veterinary treatments for diabetes, cancer and arthritis are based on corresponding therapies for people developed through animal research.

Protecting pets and livestock
Before the development of vaccines, infectious diseases could destroy herds of animals or a much-loved pet. [More...]

Millions of pets and livestock have been vaccinated to protect them from anthrax, distemper, canine parvovirus, feline leukemia, rabies and other diseases, thanks to animal research.

Developed through research using calves, the pasteurellosis vaccine now protects against this once-widespread severe respiratory disease. More than 100 million cattle have been vaccinated.

Animal research on cats allowed researchers to develop a vaccine to prevent feline leukemia, once a fatal blood cancer in cats.

Dog research allowed scientists to isolate the virus that causes canine distemper, a leading cause of death among puppies. Research led to a vaccine that has controlled spread of the virus in developed countries, although the disease continues to threaten unvaccinated dog populations.

Research rabbits
Scientists used rabbits and dogs to discover how insulin could treat diabetes. Today, both people and animals can live healthier lives thanks to this animal research. [More...]

The researchers injected insulin into a diabetic dog and restored it to health. Additional studies in rabbits showed how to balance insulin doses and blood sugar to avoid insulin overdose. Animals were essential to the research because hormones are carried in blood and must be studied in a living system.

Contented Cattle
UBC animal researchers are among only a handful of investigators worldwide focused on the welfare of dairy cows and calves. [More...]

UBC Animal Welfare Program researchers are contributing to our understanding of the impacts of feeding, lameness, housing, separation of calves from cows, and other welfare issues. They are also making recommendations on pain management to reduce suffering caused by dehorning methods that use caustic paste or a hot iron.

Better living for lab rats
UBC Animal Welfare Program researchers have studied rat behaviour to identify improvements for research laboratory cages. [More...]

Looking at cage size, social contact, bedding type, and environmental enrichments, researchers aim to design the ideal rat cage. The data will help animal caretakers improve environments for this valued research animal.

Seeking steller solutions
The Marine Mammal Research Unit of the Fisheries Centre at UBC administers the North Pacific Universities Marine Mammal Research Consortium. The group studies marine mammals in the North Pacific Ocean and Eastern Bering Sea. [More...]

Researchers are looking at Steller sea lions at the Vancouver Aquarium to better understand nutritional needs and develop new techniques for studying the animal in the wild, leading to more effective conservation of wild seals and sea lions.

The Open Water Project, also conducted in collaboration with the Vancouver Aquarium, explores how much energy Steller sea lions use looking for food. The data will help scientists devise ways to help declining wild populations recover.

Securing seahorse futures
UBC researchers are involved in Project Seahorse, a worldwide effort to study and secure the future for seahorses and to address urgent issues affecting marine conservation. [More...]

Seahorse populations are threatened by widespread use in traditional Chinese medicine, and by aquarium and curios trades. In addition, they suffer from habitat destruction and incidental catch by trawlers.

In 2002, all 32 species of seahorse gained international protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Wild Fauna and Flora, thanks to the work of Project Seahorse members.

Combating chronic wasting disease
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal prion disease similar to mad cow disease. Affecting the nervous system of deer and elk, CWD damages the brain. [More...]

CWD symptoms include weight loss, listlessness, and in elk, hyper-excitability and excessive salivation and tooth grinding.

Until recently the only way to confirm a diagnosis involved examination of the brain, tonsils or lymph nodes after death. In 2008, researchers developed the first rectal-tissue biopsy method for detecting chronic wasting disease in living captive and wild elk. The technique allows researchers to detect CWD in animals not yet showing symptoms, allowing for early diagnosis and removal from the herd. This means fewer animals will contract the disease and culls of diseased animals to control spread of CWD can be reduced.

Researchers rein in equine surgery risks
A serious complication of abdominal surgery in horses is scar tissue or adhesions that can cause chronic pain or colic, an often deadly digestive condition. [More...]

Researchers experimented with laparoscopy, a minimally invasive surgical technique proved beneficial for humans, to look at post-operative recovery from the inside out. Entering the abdomen with a laparoscope, a long instrument attached to a video camera, surgeons can find and detach adhesions that form post-operatively. The procedure offers a better prognosis – once described as grim - for foals and horses undergoing abdominal surgery.

Bionic parts for pets
Following clinical research, the first successful total canine hip replacement was performed in 1974. [More...]

Today more than 2,000 hip replacements are performed annually in North America, giving a new life to dogs suffering from severe hip dysplasia - a painful, degenerative joint condition.

Dogs have also received prosthetic paws and legs that use titanium alloys which mimic animal hide, so skin and bone can fuse onto the metal implant, providing a permanent new part.

Source: Understanding Animal Research

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Animal Research

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