WASHINGTON—Humane Society International and the Humane Society of United States have supported a fast-track research grant for non-animal approaches to investigate mechanisms, medicines and vaccines for the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The organizations believe that understanding the biological mechanisms that make humans especially susceptible to COVID-19 is urgently needed to inform the development and evaluation of effective countermeasures.  

Laboratory investigations of human disease often attempt to artificially reproduce a condition in animals. Since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, a flood of studies have described infecting mice, hamsters, ferrets, monkeys and other animals with COVID-19. Yet most report that the animals used were either immune to the new virus, or manifested symptoms that differ substantially from the human condition, including in the most severe clinical outcomes. In addition, the animal-based approach is limited in its ability to predict the impact of comorbidities— the presence of two chronic diseases—in COVID-19 patients, or how the various treatments could impact or worsen the infection.

“We have great faith in the Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing as a source of funding for research with the potential to spare humans, as well as animals in laboratories, from suffering caused by COVID-19,” says Kitty Block, president and CEO of HSUS and CEO of HSI.

The two organizations’ donation of $20,000 to the CAAT grant program aims to stimulate innovative and inherently human-relevant solutions for COVID-19. Models based on human biology—from cell and tissue cultures to complex organoids, organs-on-a-chip and computational tools—can help scientists understand the mechanisms of disease progression and rapidly identify interventions that are effective and safe in a human biological environment. 

The groups previously released a multi-pronged policy plan for preventing another global health crisis like COVID-19.

About HSI: Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world’s largest animal protection organizations. For more than 25 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide – on the Web at hsi.org

About HSUS: Founded in 1954, the Humane Society of the United States and its affiliates around the globe fight the big fights to end suffering for all animals. Together with millions of supporters, the HSUS takes on puppy mills, factory farms, trophy hunts, animal testing and other cruel industries, and together with its affiliates, rescues and provides direct care for over 100,000 animals every year. The HSUS works on reforming corporate policy, improving and enforcing laws and elevating public awareness on animal issues. More at humanesociety.org.    

Subscribe to Kitty Block’s blog, A Humane World. Follow the HSUS Media Relations department on Twitter. Read the award-winning All Animals magazine. Listen to the Humane Voices Podcast.  

About JHU CAAT: The Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, founded in 1981, is part of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, with a European branch located at the University of Kostanz, Germany. 

CAAT promotes humane science by supporting the creation, development, validation and use of alternatives to animals in research, product safety testing, and education. The center seeks to effect change by working with scientists in industry, government, and academia to find new ways to replace animals with non-animal methods, reduce the numbers of animals necessary, or refine methods to make them less painful or stressful to the animals involved.

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