Santa Cruz Animal Health

(ANIMAL WELFARE) Santa Cruz Biotechnology, a supplier of antibodies to molecular biology labs worldwide, has somehow managed to hide away 841 unreported goats at their “remote barn” for biological exploitation. A tip-off led inspectors to locate the barn which held the animals, some of whom were “lame, anaemic or had protruding bones.” While most research institutions are familiar with mice, goats are seen as good sources due to their ability to generate more antibodies and have a longer lifespan. Read more to learn about this irresponsible facility and why these goats have been unsafely hoarded for their antibodies. — Global Animal

Care 2, Kristina Chew

It might seem difficult, if not impossible, to imagine that anyone could keep 841 goats without authorities noticing. But Santa Cruz Biotechnology, a major supplier of antibodies and other materials used by molecular biology labs worldwide, was able to do just that for at least two and a half years.

“That’s virtually unheard of in my career, ” Cathy Liss, president of the Animal Welfare Institute, who has been working for them since 1982, tells Nature. A December 2012 report by USDA inspectors says that the company had routinely denied the existence of the facility, which was located about 14 kilometers south of the company’s main operations in Santa Cruz.

Nature describes Santa Cruz Biotechnology as the second-largest supplier in the U.S. $1.6-billion global market for research antibodies. While research labs never actually see the goats, the animals’ antibodies play a ‘key role in modern bioscience, ’” as John Timmer explains on Ars Technica:

Antibodies are useful for several procedures conducted by biologists because they can stick so specifically to a single target. If you can raise antibodies against a specific protein, you can then use those antibodies to purify that protein out of the huge mix of proteins produced by a cell.

Goats are seen as good sources since they can generate more antibodies and have a longer lifespan than mice (which most research institutions are more familiar with). Larger blood samples can also be taken from goats. As neuroscientist Erik Ullian at the University of California, San Francisco, says, Santa Cruz Biotechnology develops more hard-to-find antibodies than other companies and sometimes is the “only option that we have for trying an antibody.”

Under the Animal Welfare Act, animals with conditions that cause them pain are to be euthanized. The USDA had cited Santa Cruz Biotechnology for violating animal welfare laws a number of times in the past as far back as 2005, when it had to pay $4, 600 in fines resulting from violations in “animal sanitation, veterinary care, and training.” Investigators found flies around the animals’ enclosures and the use of “unacceptable forms of euthanasia, as well as using more than 1, 000 rabbits when a protocol authorized the use of 80.”

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