Washington Update

FASEB Issues New Invertebrate Animal Research Factsheet

By: Naomi Charalambakis
Wednesday, July 26, 2023
Earlier this month, FASEB released its newest animal research factsheet focused on the value of invertebrate animal studies to advance biomedical progress. As the largest group in the animal kingdom that live both on land and water, the factsheet demonstrates how scientists use invertebrates to understand fundamental biology and various human diseases. 

The factsheet shares three examples of ways scientists use Drosophila, C. elegans, and the honeybee to assess and treat a broad range of diseases. For example, given the genetic similarities between Drosophila and mammals, these invertebrates are important models to elucidate the genetic underpinnings of neurological diseases such as autism spectrum disorder. In fact, in early 2023, scientists published a comprehensive wiring map of the Drosophila brain, complete with its neurons and cell connections. This new resource will facilitate future neuroscience studies. The factsheet also underscores the contributions of honeybee research in advancing studies of different human diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. 

To highlight the value of the largest and most intricate group of invertebrates, the factsheet focuses on cephalopod research. Animals such as octopus, squid, and cuttlefish are essential in neuroscience research given their large, well-developed nervous system that is similar to humans. Furthermore, because cephalopods can regrow their muscles, nerves, and limbs, scientists use this property to advance regenerative medicine and develop prosthetics for humans who may be suffering from organ or limb damage.

Finally, recognizing that cephalopods are a complex, sentient species, the factsheet emphasizes that researchers and veterinarians treat cephalopods with the utmost care to ensure excellent health and well-being. This includes robust monitoring by Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees as well as adherence to guidelines published by AAALAC International.

View the full suite of FASEB’s animal research factsheets here