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Currently Approved VA Protocols for Research with Animals

VA is committed to supporting the research that is needed to improve medical care for Veterans. There is far more research that needs to be done than VA can support, so VA selects the work that is most likely to be valuable. Of all the research that is proposed, typically about 20% gets selected by scientific subject matter experts as scientifically valid and of highest priority for funding. Of that, more than half is research that is best done with human subjects, computer models, analysis of existing data, or collection of data from biological systems other than vertebrate animals. Of the remaining less than half that depends on work with living non-human vertebrate animals, over 99% is done with rats and mice. Less than 5% of that last 1% of the research that depends on living vertebrate animals involves dogs, cats, or nonhuman primates, as shown in the figure below:

VA research with animals

All VA research with animals is subject to careful review and oversight, but research with these three species is scrutinized especially closely, according to procedures that were formally described in Guidance Document AR 2017-001, which was most recently updated July 16, 2020. 

Only the protocols for VA research with these species that are shown here are currently approved for work to proceed.  For each protocol, there is a link to the following supporting documents:

  • The animal protocol form reviewed and approved by the local IACUC
  • The feedback document provided by the CVMO’s office to the station for each protocol that underwent secondary review.  The feedback was provided by at least one boarded laboratory animal veterinarian and reviewed by the CVMO, also a boarded laboratory animal veterinarian, andguided the local IACUC and the investigator to revise earlier versions of the animal protocol form, to ensure that the final version met the standards required for CVMO approval.

VA Research with Current Secretary Approval for Work with Canines

VA Research with Current Approval for Work with Felines

Protocol

Funding Source

VA Location

1. Conscious Ambulatory Bladder Monitoring to Understand Neural Control of Lower Urinary Tract Function (fully approved before new review policy for cats was established May 3, 2018)

Protocol Form

NIH

Cleveland

Purpose of Research: More than 15 million Americans face the challenges of incontinence, frequent urination, or dysfunctional voiding, often related to spinal cord injury, diabetes, or aging, which are common in the veteran population. Finding better ways to diagnose and treat the causes of these problems with bladder function requires devices that can monitor bladder volume and pressure under everyday conditions and in people without sensation. This research is to develop and validate such a device. Cats are the smallest species that controls the bladder in ways similar to how people do, and have bladders large enough for the devices developed with them to be scalable for human use.

2. Force Feedback Redistribution & Eccentric-Focused Rehab post-SCI (fully approved before new review policy was established May 3, 2018)

Protocol Form and Feedback Document

 VA

Louisville

Purpose of Research:  Veterans with incomplete spinal cord injury (SCI) may have sensation and be able to use muscles below the level of the injury to walk, but there is evidence that mechanisms for coordinating the muscles and adjusting limb stiffness may still be dysfunctional, interfering with normal gait and weight support. This research examines the mechanisms that are impaired and the effects of a training strategy specifically designed to reverse the impairment and thereby improve weight support and gait after SCI.

Approved VA Research with Sensitive Species that has been Completed



VA Research with Current Approval for Work with Non-Human Primates

Protocol

Funding Source(s)

Station

1. Stem Cell Therapy for Treatment of Spinal Cord Injury (fully approved before new review policy was established October 25, 2018)

Protocol Form and Feedback Document

VA

San Diego

Purpose of Research: Over 40,000 US veterans are living with spinal cord injuries (SCI), and there are still no therapies to repair the spinal cord.  This research is to explore the possibility that neural stem cells can be used to help bridge the damaged tissue and restore communication across the site of the injury. This is an effort to go beyond helping those with SCI to live with them, the goal is to actually cure the problem.

2. Contusion Injury as a Model for Spinal Cord Injury (fully approved before new review policy was established October 25, 2018)

Protocol Form and Feedback Document

VA

San Diego

Purpose of Research:  Over 40,000 US veterans are living with spinal cord injuries (SCI), the most common of which are contusion (bruising) injuries, which have important anatomical and functional differences from injuries in which the spinal cord is cut.  This research is to gain greater understanding of contusion SCI, and its time course and functional effects, to improve prediction of the outcomes of injuries that people experience, and then be better able to detect the effects of therapies that are applied.  

Approved VA Research with Sensitive Species that has been Completed



VA Plan to Reduce Research with Sensitive Species of Animals

VA continues to be committed to supporting the research that is needed to improve medical care for Veterans, and recognizes that a very small portion of that research currently still depends on work with sensitive species of animals. VA is also committed to continuing to reduce the need for sensitive species of animals to be involved in VA research. There are various strategies for doing this, and VA is investing in a multipronged approach, as described in VA's Five-Year Plan for Reducing Research with Sensitive Species, submitted to Congress in December, 2020, as required by PL 116-94, § 249(e).



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Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.